Cambridge Youth Council Launches “Youth Headspace,” a Mental Health Campaign for Youth, by Youth
5/24/2023 • 6 months ago
Earlier this month, the Cambridge Youth Council (CYC) launched Youth Headspace, a website and mental health campaign curated for youth, by youth that provides information and resources related to mental health. A subcommittee of the Family Policy Council, CYC is comprised of 16 young people, ages 14-18, who live in Cambridge and are dedicated to improving the lives of youth through social justice, education, and community building.
The Youth Headspace website is part of an original campaign concepted by students themselves that includes the resources they use. The website includes links to local and national mental health resources; a student-sourced playlist; and tips for managing stress. It also features the “Well-Beings,” a series of original characters designed by CYC member Sophia Saheli. Each of the five Well-Beings, which include the ‘BFF Otters’ and ‘Self-Actualizing Axolotl’ among others, represent an action you can take to protect your mental health. Collectively, the Well-Beings are a friendly reminder to students that their peers care about them and that there is a resource available to them whenever they need it.
The Youth Headspace campaign was developed in response to results from the 2022 Cambridge Middle Grades and Teen Health Survey , conducted by the Cambridge Public Health Department and Cambridge Public Schools. A total of 2,200 students in grades 6-12 participated in the survey during May – June 2022. Following the release of the results, the Family Policy Council identified mental health as one of the biggest issues facing young people in Cambridge and asked the CYC to create the campaign.
“Who better to create a mental health campaign for youth, by youth? And CYC did not disappoint,” said Nancy Tauber, Director of the Family Policy Council. “The goal of CYC is to provide the Family Policy Council with an authentic youth voice, which is just what they did.”
After reviewing the survey results in the fall, CYC began a year-long creative process to develop a campaign that was authentic to their experiences. The Family Policy Council enlisted Flagg Street Studio, a local design firm owned by Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) and Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA) graduates, to teach students about the elements of a successful campaign, from ideation and messaging to color theory and typography.
“We realized that youth mental health challenges ran a lot younger than we expected. We tried to ensure our campaign could encompass a wide range of ages and demographics, especially through the Well-Being characters,” said CYC members in a statement. “We wanted to uplift the youth voice and celebrate our peers. And we wanted to advocate and find ways that we know help us [as young people], as opposed to being told what would help us.”
During Mental Health Awareness month this May, CYC is sharing information about Youth Headspace. All Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) and Community Charter School of Cambridge students will receive Well-Beings sticker sheets, another component of the campaign that students designed. CRLS Creative Design students from RSTA also participated in a Live Work Poster Contest to promote the campaign within the school; CYC will hang the winning posters up in places around Cambridge where young people gather, including schools, libraries, and Youth Centers.
“I am so impressed by the Youth Council’s creativity and compassion. Youth Headspace is a perfect example of the thoughtful work that the Youth Council does advocating for students,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Cambridge Youth Council. “I look forward to seeing how, under their leadership, this resource will evolve over the years to reflect the needs of youth citywide.”
CYC will continue growing the campaign next year. They encourage young people to share their perspectives and recommendations related to mental health by filling out this brief survey.
For more information about CYC Youth Headspace, visit www.cycheadspace.org.