Wellness Café Improves Youth Mental Health

October 26, 2021

Difficult Year for Kids

2020 was a particularly difficult year for everyone, but even more so for my daughter, Mae.  Often times I found myself at a complete loss trying to help her”, shared a parent working with Families CARE in Kearney, Nebraska.

“As a parent, there are times you just can’t connect on the same level as a teenager.  When Mae approached me with the need to connect to local teens that share her struggles with mental health, I set out to find a program like this”.

Families CARE Supports Youth

Mae’s father found Families CARE’s Wellness Café.  For decades, Families CARE has been providing support, advocacy, activities, and opportunities like Wellness Café to children, youth, and families who are at risk and/or experiencing a mental or behavioral health challenge.

Facilitators, like Peer Support Specialist Jenn, engage youth in groups that are intended to foster connection and wellness, reduce stigma and isolation, and build skills for lifelong growth.

“Having educational things to teach kids about how to take care of their mental health is invaluable!”, she said.

Mae shared that she has mental health challenges and the program has helped her share her story and learn how to deal with the world, learn coping skills that she can use during hard times, and make friends that can provide support.

“Being an organizer (with Wellness Café)”, said Mae, “helped me learn how to live in the real world and realize there are bigger problems in the world than mental health”.

Wellness Café Support Groups

Wellness Café support groups are offered to two age groups, 11-14 & 15 and older.  Groups focus on teaching youth how to learn from lived experiences of their peers, WRAP skills, & exploring physical health as it relates to mental health.  The Café also helps reduce stigma and improve wellness while it provides activities for families to experience inclusion and a sense of community by meeting other parents & families that experience similar challenges.

With our 2022 grant recipients being required to align their grant goals with their local public health districts Community Health Improvement Plan, Families CARE identified the connection between services, such as the Wellness Café, and decreasing risk factors for youth.

Decreasing Risk Factors

There is some evidence that suggest that this kind of support and connection can decrease risk factors, including the risk of suicide, because youth are interacting with peers with similar challenges, in a healthy setting, facilitated by Certified Peer Specialists. They are learning physical & mental wellness tools that they can use during challenging times.

We are thankful for non-profit organizations, like Families CARE, that are invested in the lives of children and that make a difference in their lives every day!

Please join us to address mental health challenges and grow healthy, happy young people across Nebraska by donating today: https://bit.ly/3lwhtjl