A Note from our CEO - May 5, 2022
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Tom Bakaly, CEO, Beach Cities Health District

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, created to bring attention to mental health and mental illness, which affect millions of people across the U.S. and a growing number of young people, including celebrities like singer Demi Lovato, tennis star Naomi Osaka and swimmer Michael Phelps.

Research shows mental health and physical health are connected and contribute to one’s overall health. For example, depression can increase the risk for health problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the most diagnosed mental health disorders in young people are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression and behavior problems. They have also reported new data showing that more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. 

A study of youth here in the Beach Cities found similar results, with 45% of 11th graders reporting feeling chronically sad or hopeless during the last 12 months, according to the California Healthy Kids Survey. The percentage of 9th graders with similar feelings was 41%, a 7% increase from the year prior.

Overall, there is much room for improvement in mental health among Beach Cities students and adults. People are feeling more stressed, sad, hopeless and disconnected from one another, with the pandemic only making things worse.

Local Steps for Mental Health: allcove Beach Cities

At BCHD, we are taking steps to address mental health in our community and have made Mental Health one of our four health priorities for the next three-year cycle, as reported in our Community Health Report. We are working to increase stress management across the lifespan while simultaneously reducing the prevalence of bullying, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

We’re also working to increase access to early intervention mental health services through allcove Beach Cities, a youth wellness center offering mental and physical health resources, education, employment, peer and family support, and substance use prevention programs for young people ages 12-25 in the South Bay.

allcove Beach Cities will open later this year at our Redondo Beach campus, with plans calling for it to be a permanent part of the Healthy Living Campus project, tentatively set to break ground in 2023.

Understating the importance of youth mental health, this new program has received $2 million in funding from the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, plus an additional $1 million from Congress, thanks to the efforts of Representative Ted Lieu.

We will soon introduce the first Youth Advisory Group for allcove Beach Cities, nine 16-25-year-olds who will help our team gain a better understanding of young peoples’ needs and opinions to provide them with relevant and effective services. Next up is bringing local mental health providers onboard to deliver these vital services. More information on the recruiting process available on our web site.

Later this summer, we will hold an Open House for the new allcove Beach Cities center. I hope you’ll join us to learn more about the important services allcove Beach Cities will provide to young people in this area.

In health,