by Joyce Xi. On June 25, 2019, San Francisco youth achieved a major victory by passing a resolution at the San Francisco School Board that will shift policies and practices to ensure collective youth mental health and wellness in local schools. These changes include increased funding for preventative wellness services, expanding student voice and decision making related to mental health, and implementing peer-led wellness programs. Youth from across the city led the effort, and showed up to provide testimony on their experiences and why they believe the changes are needed.
Here is a video documenting the night of the final vote.
For the past few years, San Francisco youth have led the way in advocating for better mental health resources in local schools. After witnessing their peers’ struggles with mental health, youth from the Chinese Progressive Association’s Youth MOJO (Movement of Justice and Organizing) launched their “Our Healing in Our Hands” campaign to advocate for their own well being.
According to the youth, oftentimes students’ mental health issues aren’t noticed until it is too late. Students of color, low income youth, and gender non-conforming and questioning youth are disproportionately affected by issues that contribute negatively to mental health. Furthermore, students in need of emotional support have been sent to the dean’s office to be disciplined and labelled as “disruptive” instead of being sent to the wellness center for help.
Youth surveyed around 1,000 of their peers on mental health needs and experiences and produced their own community based research They then brought these findings to the San Francisco School Board to advocate for change in SFUSD schools. Moving forward, youth and the district will work together to implement the changes outlined in the resolution passed last June.
Here is a video by CPA about their Youth MOJO campaign, “Our Healing in Our Hands.”
Author’s bio: Joyce Xi is an independent filmmaker/photographer and community activist in the SF Bay Area.