LOUISVILLE, Ky, December 3, 2020 - The uncertainty, isolation and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic are mentally wearing on many Kentuckians, and children and youth may be struggling as much as or more than adults. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky will host a webinar to better understand youth and ways to build their mental health on Monday, December 14, from 2-3 pm ET. The webinar is part of the Foundation's annual Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum webinar series, which is focused in 2020 on improving child health in Kentucky.

"2020 has presented more challenges to the youth of Kentucky, particularly to their mental health and well-being, than any time in recent memory," said Sheila Schuster, PhD, a licensed psychologist and executive director of the Advocacy Action Network in Kentucky, who will moderate the program. "The twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice have created serious disruptions of developmental patterns, educational progress, family life, peer relationships and a developing sense of self. The community of young people, parents, educators, advocates, policy-makers and professionals need to come together to provide supports and resources during these troubled times.”

Speakers will help participants:

  • Gain an understanding of youth from a mental health perspective and the impact of the pandemic on youth mental health in Kentucky;
  • Learn about statewide and community-based youth mental health programs, including those for youth with disabilities;
  • Explore internet safety and prevention of online bullying and other unhealthy online behaviors; and
  • Learn about a peer-based suicide-prevention program in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Legislators, educators, advocates and others who want to learn more about supporting youth mental health are invited to attend. The webinar is free, but registration is required: Register here.

The Foundation is partnering with Kentucky Youth Advocates in offering this year's Bost Forum series, titled Moving Kids Toward Natural Highs: Kentucky Opportunities to Prevent Youth Substance Use, Suicide and Risky Behaviors. The series features panels of speakers on the topics of the State of Child Health in Kentucky (held September 21; view recording here and slide presentations here), Intervening Early (October 19; view recording here and slide presentations here), Promoting Healthy Lifestyles through Nutrition and Physical Activity (held November 9, view recording here and slide presentations here), Understanding Youth and Building Good Mental Health (December 14) and Stopping Vaping and Substance Use (January 11) - register here).

Speakers in the Dec. 14 webinar are:

Dr. Felicia Smith, Licensed Psychologist, Co-Owner of StrongMinds
Dr. Allen Brenzel, Medical Director, Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health
Kerry Gallagher, Director of K-12 Education, ConnectSafely
Beatrice Roussell, youth speaker, graduate of Manual High School where she was a member of the STAMINA Suicide Prevention Group, and now a college student facing her first semester away from home during the pandemic

Dr. Sheila Schuster, Executive Director, Advocacy Action Network, and a member of the Foundation's Community Advisory Council.
About the Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum
The Foundation convenes the Bost Forum annually in memory of Dr. Howard L. Bost, a notable health economist and founding member of the Foundation's board of directors. The aim of the forum is to raise awareness of health issues impacting Kentuckians and to highlight model strategies and policy opportunities to improve Kentucky's health. Presentations and video from previous forums are available here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth.

Media Contacts:
Bonnie J. Hackbarth
877-326-2583 (Office)
502-552-3770 (Mobile)

Alexa Kerley
877-326-2583 (Office)
859-229-9611 (Mobile)