Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) is one of 88 organizations in the U.S. that has received a grant from The Upswing Fund to increase our capacity to serve more youth, especially those in historically underserved and under-resourced populations.

The Fund, which began in October 2020, aims to expand mental health services for adolescents of color and LGBTQ+ youth. Upswing awarded $10.8 million in grants to organizations in 33 states.

“We are happy to announce that financial support from The Upswing Fund will enable organizations to continue mission-critical work with adolescents who are of color and/or LGBTQ+ in this challenging time,” said Solomé Tibebu, Director of The Upswing Fund, in a press release. “These organizations are on the front lines combatting a mental health epidemic during a global pandemic by delivering impactful programs and innovations in an ever-changing world.”

Teen Health Mississippi will use the grant to expand our work to reach more underserved youth in Mississippi, which includes expanding the Mind Elevation Project.

Project ME. is a mental health resource hub with an on-the-ground grassroots campaign and virtual resource campaign designed to teach youth about the intersection of sexual health and mental health topics. The hub consists of sexual and mental health resources, including safer sex resources, a mental health and sexual health resource booklet, virtual resources, conversations and discussions with youth and experts about youth mental health and healthcare, and other resources. We use this platform to bring discussions about mental health and sexual health through storytelling and colorful illustrations directly to rural minority youth. This platform is created for youth and by youth within the state of Mississippi, with a special emphasis on youth leadership and development.

We will also use the grant to provide more trauma-informed trainings and Mental Health First Aid trainings to youth, youth-serving adults (e.g. teachers, parents, faith leaders, and community based organizations), and healthcare providers to help recognize mental health issues within youth and trusted adults. Through a network of Mental Health First Aid responders within rural communities, we can bring awareness to mental health, build community capacity to provide services and linkages to each other, and help break the stigma associated with mental health in these areas.

“Research shows us that half of American youth experience trauma in their lives. Youth who experience trauma are more likely to have a history of STIs, depression, and unplanned pregnancy.  If we truly want a better brighter future for youth, we must begin to have open and honest conversations about mental health and sexual health in our communities,” said THMS Executive Director Dr. Hope Crenshaw.

Teen Health Mississippi is a 501c3 with a mission of giving young people in Mississippi access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare. We also work to bridge gaps between young people and their communities because we know that when youth have the resources they need, everyone benefits. See teenhealthms.org for more information.

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