As part of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s 2022-2023 Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth Mental Health, the National Governors Association hosted a webinar in partnership with the Frameworks Institute on Messaging for Success on youth mental health initiatives. This webinar was well attended by both state policy leaders and thought leaders in the youth mental health space.
The webinar kicked off with opening remarks from First Lady Abby Cox about the importance of state leaders having clear and intentional messaging on their programs that support the emotional resilience and wellbeing of children in their state. The First Lady highlighted several sobering statistics, including a rise in loneliness after the pandemic and increasing rates of suicide in youth under 24, and underscored the high stakes of miscommunication: families feeling alienated or overwhelmed, children feeling hopeless, and leaders losing momentum on life-changing initiatives. The First Lady made sure to point out that there are promising state programs, and she took the opportunity to call out two successful programs in Utah: her Show Up for Utah campaign, that highlights opportunities to connect and volunteer to drive community wellness, and the SafeUT app, a crisis chat and tip line for students to find support or report concerns.
The main portion of the webinar was dedicated to the work of the FrameWorks Institute, a think tank that helps public sector leaders and mission-driven organizations communicate about social issues in ways that build will to support change. Chief Executive Officer Nat Kendall-Taylor and Director of Research Applications Marisa Gerstein Pineau explained the background of FrameWorks’ evidence-based approach, pulling from both social sciences and statistics. Nat and Marisa identified three “cultural mindsets” that influence public perception on youth mental health: individualism, fatalism, and otherism, and elevated effective communication solutions to mitigate the negative impact of these mindsets. The webinar concluded with a discussion on the unique opportunity that state leaders have to incorporate deliberate messaging strategies to build public awareness and understanding. To learn more about FrameWorks’ recommendations, check out their resource on Changing the Narrative Together: Three Effective Strategies for Talking about Youth Mental Health on their website, along with other helpful publications.