On the final day of Women’s History Month, Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice and Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein hosted a roundtable at the White House with young women who are leading their communities in improving mental health. Participants were joined by the leaders of national girls’ advocacy organizations, each of whom have prioritized mental health policy and supported young women leaders in tackling the issue.
As studies continue to highlight the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on adolescent mental health, the participants shared their experiences and insights into the unique mental health challenges faced by women and girls. The young women leaders also shared policy recommendations for empowering girls’ mental health, including the need to meet girls where they are and the importance of reducing stigma and other barriers that prevent young women and girls from accessing mental health services make more difficult.
Senior White House officials reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to addressing our mental health crisis, a core pillar of the unity agenda that President Biden outlined in his State of the Union address. This commitment includes: increasing the size and diversity of the mental health workforce; expanding coverage and reducing costs for mental health services; and integrating mental health care and services into all settings, from schools to community centers. Senior White House officials stressed that the President’s FY23 budget earmarked a historic $829 million to strengthen and advance youth mental health. They also discussed the government’s work to address the impact of social media on mental health, including addressing the intersection of online harassment and abuse and gender-based violence, a commitment that forms part of the US’s first-ever national gender strategy. government that was released by the Biden-Harris administration last fall.
Young women leaders who took part in today’s discussion included: • Belen Buckley, youth counselor, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality; California
• Enshalla Dunlop, Advisor for the National Agenda for Black Girls (NABG), Girls for Gender Equity; new York
• Marley Dias, author and literary activist; New Jersey
• Elmirah Marcus Garcia, Juvenile Attorney, National Crittenton; New Mexico
• Kiran Kadiyala, alumnus of Girls Inc.’s National Teen Advocacy Council; Florida
• Ava Macomber, youth leader, Girl Scouts USA; District of Columbia
• Mahogany Morris, Health and Education Intern, Community Organization Justice for Black Girls; new York
• Delgracia Sainvil, Member of the Young Women Advisory Board, Girls for Gender Equity; new York
The following organization leaders also attended the roundtable: • Lisette Engel, Vice President, Policy and Systems Change, National Crittenton
• Rebecca Epstein, executive director, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality
• Stephanie Hull, President and CEO, Girls Inc.
• Margaret Mitchell, President and CEO, YWCA
• Monique Morris, President and CEO, Girls of Color Scholars
• Sue Santa, Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy, Girl Scouts USA
• Joanne Smith, President and CEO, Girls for Gender Equity