The proposed project will work with a youth and professional advisory council to assess existing policies addressing Black adolescent mental health at the local and state level in Nevada; as well as propose policy approaches to enhance the capacity of local and state community-based organizations to address mental health needs of Black youth. The Trudy Larson MD Institute for Health Impact and Equity (Larson Institute) fosters community-engaged research, policy, training, capacity building, and workforce development to advance health equity and elevate the health status of diverse populations, including Latinx, Black, Sexual Gender Diverse (SGD), refugee, and rural communities. The Larson Institute has the experience, established partnerships, community support, and dedicated staff needed to successfully implement the "Harnessing the Power of Youth Initiative."
Studies have found that a higher percentage of Black children in Nevada reported feeling hopeless or depressed compared to other racial groups (Kids Count Data Center, 2022). In Nevada, suicide rates among the Black population are at 11.6 per 100,000, nearly double the national rate, and those rates continue to climb (CDC, 2019; United Health Foundation, 2022). Nevadans who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Queer (LGBTQ) also reported feeling depressed and contemplated suicide at more than double the rate of their heterosexual counterparts (Minority Health Assessment). It is evident that action is desperately needed to address the mental health of Black youth in Nevada and that the state is poised to enhance the accessibility of mental health. Black youth will be an integral part of this project, learning leadership and advocacy skills to guide local and state mental health providers and their agencies to ensure health equity in the state of Nevada. The capacity of Black youth-serving organizations, specifically faith-based institutions, health centers, and community-based organizations, will be enhanced through this project. Capacity-building assistance and trainings will be offered to providers to enhance their cultural competency skills and ability to provide effective services for Black youth. Expected outcomes of this project are increased access to mental health services, culturally competent mental health policies, and skilled Black youth leadership.