As 2020 comes to a close and we take stock of the year, we’re choosing to celebrate the wins and the resiliency of our community. It’s pretty incredible what we’ve been able to accomplish together—in spite of all that this year threw at us.
Wins in 2020
Will you celebrate with us? Let’s look back at how our community has been able to move our mission forward to ensure that all young people in Mississippi have access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare services forward.
Offering New Mental Health Trainings
In 2020, Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) earned its Mental Health First Aid Training Certifications for youth and adults. Our new Youth Mental Health First Aid Course for adults covers how to help adolescents aged 12-18 who are experiencing mental health issues, addiction challenges, or who are in crisis. Adult Mental Health First Aid allows us to train healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations on how to address mental health, trauma, and substance abuse in adults. THMS will launch these trainings in early 2021.
Providing Thousands of Dollars in Emergency Relief
It meant a lot to be able to provide emergency relief to young people across Mississippi who’ve been affected by the pandemic, including LGBTQ and expectant and parenting youth. Teen Health Mississippi partnered with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and other organizations across the state to provide relief aid to youth across Mississippi.
To date, we have impacted 1,067 youth in Mississippi with our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, providing much-needed assistance to youth experiencing food insecurities, homelessness, medical and safety emergencies, and expectant and parenting youth who were experiencing hardships due to the pandemic. To maximize the impact and to reach youth across more areas of the state, THMS partnered with eight youth-serving organizations in Mississippi, and together we were able to provide over $60,000 in direct aid to youth who applied for emergency relief.
Launching the Choose Your Method Tool
We launched the interactive Choose Your Method tool this year to make it easier for Mississippi teens to learn about birth control, STI prevention options, and how to access them. The tool allows youth to filter through different types of birth control and STI prevention methods based on the criteria that matters most to them, like if the method is a form of pregnancy prevention or if it doesn’t require a doctor visit. To date, the site has received 216 visitors, and we have trained healthcare providers in the Mississippi Delta on how to talk to young people about contraceptive methods with this tool.
Hosting a Successful Virtual MYSummit
The annual Mobilizing Youth Summit (MYSummit) provides young people in Mississippi with the opportunity to increase their awareness around issues affecting themselves and their peers. The 2020 workshops were entirely virtual and equipped young participants with the skills and tools to build community-level campaigns to advocate for the rights of young people.
150 young people participated in this year’s summit, and some 2,700 viewers watched the recording afterward. It was encouraging to see so many youth who are eager to make a difference in the world.
Helping Expectant and Parenting Youth
In partnership with the Mississippi State Department of Health, Teen Health Mississippi’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund program offers trainings and resources to service providers looking to support the unique needs of expectant and parenting youth. This year we finalized a resource guide for expectant and parenting youth in Mississippi to help them access resources related to medical care, housing, job training, and more. To date, we have trained 104 counselors, teachers, lactation counselors, health education specialists, social workers, and other trusted adults on the needs and experiences of expectant and parenting youth.
Providing Resources for Safer Sex
The Mind Elevation (ME.) Project at THMS introduced Safe Sex Kits this year to help connect youth with free resources and information for practicing safer sex, which has been especially important during the pandemic when community events are happening less often. Teens can order a free Safer Sex Kit, and we’ll ship it directly to them. So far, we’ve distributed kits to 345 young people across Mississippi.
- We reached 50,000+ people on our social media platforms.
- 366 people attended workshops.
- 326 people signed our petition to expand sex ed in Mississippi.
- We had an impact in 56 counties in 2020.
- 321 people were trained on sex ed and youth-friendly healthcare virtually.
- MYCouncil members had 74 meetings with 54 state legislators to talk about expanding Mississippi’s sex education law.
As you can see, there’s a lot to celebrate at Teen Health Mississippi this year. Check out our annual report to more about our 2020 impact. Despite the challenges and sorrows that 2020 has brought, we’re thankful for a strong community that has weathered the storm with us and come out on top.
As we look to the year ahead, we appreciate your continued support to work toward our goals of increasing access to high-quality sex education and healthcare for our youth in Mississippi.
Are you with us? Every gift, no matter how small, moves us forward.
What wins are you celebrating this year? We’d love to celebrate your success stories with you in the comments.