We are grateful for you.

If this is such a wonderful time of the year, then why is every other article in my newsfeed a “guide to managing holiday stress?” And why are our young people struggling with depression and anxiety in epidemic proportions?

They need our support.  But we’re all so tired. And grumpy. Workplace burnout is real. Plus, we all have fully-human personal lives that need our constant tending in these stressful times: My middle-school aged daughter contracted COVID-19, likely within the same hour as her second vaccine; the family is chafing through her third offline quarantine of the school year, with the added fun of her basement isolation. Rena is trying to plan her 2022 Celtic-themed wedding to her longtime partner, Jamie, while working two jobs and serving as the go-to chaos control person in her family. Katie is keeping close watch on her young adult daughters’ mental health, a medically vulnerable partner, and several aging parents. She thought a post-Thanksgiving sugar fast would improve her energy but she just wants to rip someone’s head off.

Finding myself short on inspiration for this year-end message, I looked back to what I wrote last January. I talked about hope and gratitude. [Insert resentful snark here about how the Year of Better Things turned out to be the Year That Never Was. Throw tantrum.]

According to the research, we can create a different reality for ourselves by choosing gratitude. An intentional practice (meditation, prayer, thank you texts, anything) can change our mindset (because science) by literally allotting less headspace to negative emotions. 

So, I’m choosing to focus on gratitude; gratitude for this quirky group of committed, diverse, smart, irreverent, rock-solid allies to young people. You all remind me daily that despite our fatigue, we are a force to be reckoned with.

One of those annoying holiday survival guides said something like, “You don’t need to be a new you in the New Year: just keep the old you going.” Yes. Remember that your colleagues at SAHRC love the old you, and we are grateful for the superheroes that you are; championing the needs of young people in your state while managing your own health and mental health, and your own kids, families, challenges. Hang in there.   

We did actually see some good things in this Year That Wasn’t. There is new, renewed interest (the strongest interest we’ve ever seen) in communities, states, and nationally to engage young people, in meaningful ways.  The Association of Maternal and Child Health programs (AMCHP) launched their first ever national youth advisory committee – Youth. Voices. Amplified – weaving youth voice into the fabric of their organization.

Several states launched or nurtured new youth advisory structures in the midst of a pandemic with nearly all-virtual engagement. Racism is being called out and racial equity is being demanded in public health programs and other systems that serve young people and their families.  And in a “nice to see you but not like this” kind of way, there is deep and wide interest in the supporting the mental health of young people.  SAHRC is grateful for these bright spots in another dark year. 

We’ll be here when you return in 2022, ready to talk, plan, strategize, and shine a light on all the ways that you, your work, and the young people in your programs are amazing. 

Peace and love, Friends…

Lynn, Rena & Katie

State Adolescent Health Resource Center

NNSAHC Insights

This space features diverse perspectives on what’s happening in adolescent health. Articles are submitted by guest writers from the Network and our national resource partners.

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