Meeting the Challenge to Increase Connections

by Allison Williams, CEO

This morning, at an event in Washington, DC – Addressing America’s Youth Mental Health Crisis – I found myself saying, “yes, yes, and yes” over and over in my head.

YES – Relationships and connections are core to our wellness as human beings.
YES – The pandemic’s profound effect on young people’s relationships and social skills still impacts them today.
YES – There is real excitement in the launch of a Youth Mental Health Corps to leverage the positive impact of near-peer supports and the power of service.

And, as I travel home, I continue to reflect on a challenge posed at the event by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy cited study after study on the importance of relationships in our health, happiness, and overall fulfillment as human beings. He challenged us to think about how we are defining success for our kids, and where true happiness comes from.

Too often, relationships are seen as secondary. And, yet, living our fullest lives, navigating challenges big and small, and achieving our dreams is rooted in the strength of our relationships. At Wyman, we know this to be true. The power of connection has been shown year after year for more than a century at Camp Wyman, and that same power is now the focus of programs we provide year-round for thousands of teens. Connections to trusted adults, connections to peers, connections to school, connection to community – these are proven to improve teens’ mental health, and we know they lead to life-long success.

Valuing relationships, valuing connections, and teaching the same to our youth, requires intentionality and, sometimes, a shift in culture. We all have an opportunity to support this culture shift. It can’t be legislated or mandated. It occurs when we recognize our collective humanity, the absolutely foundational role relationships and connections play for us as human beings, and take steps in our daily lives to elevate these connections.

Anchoring our young people with safe and supportive relationships, helping them form strong and lasting connections to others and their communities, and truly creating places and spaces where relationships matter is all within our reach. That is our focus at Wyman, and we continue it now with even greater purpose because we know that the impact for our young people – and for us – will be profound.

Learn more about the nation’s first Youth Mental Health Corps: Eleven States Launch New Initiative to Address America’s Youth Mental Health Crisis