Behavioral Health & Well-Being Ambassadors Program

Behavioral health disorders are the most common health issues faced by our nation’s school-aged children. One in five children suffers from a mental health or learning disorder, and 80% of chronic mental disorders begin in childhood. There is an urgent need to identify the signs of these conditions early in life if children are to get the care and support they need and if we wish to reduce the $317.5 billion annual cost to our economy.

The National Council for Behavioral Health reports that 77% of counties across the country have severe shortages of behavioral health professionals.

To reduce this critical void, the Stomp The Stigma Behavioral Health & Well-Being Ambassadors Program promotes interest in psychology-related education, college majors, and careers among high school students.

Ambassadors are innovative thinkers, with interest in behavioral health, that periodically meet with government leaders to discuss current trends and issues faced by today’s students. This insight is invaluable to policy-makers, as it provides an opportunity to more effectively communicate and work together with those most affected by their governing laws.

When facing serious stress or trauma-related challenges, students may speak with parents/family members; school administrators; community/spiritual organization leaders; or personal friends. Research indicates that today’s youth increasingly prefers anonymous peer-to-peer communication. For these students, the GreyStone Power Partners in Education program has collaborated with Stomp The Stigma to offer the 2018/19 Behavioral Health and Well-Being Ambassadors Pilot Program, starting with area high schools.

This respected body of 15 youth/school (3 students/grade), selected by a team of school counsellors and staff, are available for confidential peer-to-peer consultation and work with school social workers and counsellors to increase youth behavioral health and well-being awareness throughout their school and among community youth.

Ambassadors receive monthly workshop training, attended by school counsellors, local therapists, and policy makers to both receive training and offer feedback. Leaders are coached on how to recognize critical critical signs of well-being threat and “red flags” of peers battling behavioral health crises.

Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are selected by school social workers and the program will be announced at the GreyStone Stomp the Stigma forum on May 1, 2018, with the first meetings being held at the start of the 2018/19 school year.