United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Commitment to Youth Mental Health - The Power of Youth Voices

In response to the Surgeon General’s alarming assessment of declining youth mental health, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) and Resilient Lehigh Valley (RLV) reacted and have committed to making an impact. Rooted in the urgent call for action voiced by our local youth and in collaboration with Aevidum, UWGLV and RLV sought to create impactful video content that resonates with young people and bridges the gap with their parents. The resulting #YouthSpeakUpLV campaign launched in December 2023.

The journey began with the convergence of UWGLV, RLV and Aevidum, joining forces to host a Youth Mental Health Summit in 2022. It was here that young people from Lehigh Valley school-based Aevidum clubs passionately advocated for a youth-to-parent educational campaign led by their peers and deeply informed by their unique experiences. United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley took the reins, creating a dedicated platform for the powerful voices of our youth to be heard.

Over the ensuing months, United Way’s Director of Community Resilience, Ashi Singh, engaged with dozens of students from six schools and various youth-serving organizations. These dialogues became the starting point for identifying pivotal themes and insights, which were subsequently woven into a compelling Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign. The process was collaborative, ensuring that the content genuinely resonated with the intended audience and that the messaging hit the mark with area youth.

Respecting the privacy and well-being of the youth who shaped the campaign, student actors were featured in the videos. The scripts for the PSA campaign were carefully crafted, directly drawing from the candid discussions and insights shared during the youth focus groups and the 2022 Youth Mental Health Summit. This approach ensured both authenticity and a profound respect for the voices of those who contributed.

The culmination unfolded at the 2023 Youth Mental Health Summit, held on November 30th. The event offered an opportunity to premiere the Youth Speak Up Lehigh Valley PSA campaign to a similar audience of local school-based Aevidum club members. The digital campaign features a series of nine short videos and an overview explaining the project’s origin and purpose. The videos were expertly produced by eMediaWorks, the region’s leading educational media company, assuring a standard of excellence in content quality.

During the 2023 summit, attendees were asked about the most effective means of delivering the campaign’s message to parents. Most agreed that social media, especially Facebook, would be the ideal platform for ensuring parental exposure to the content. This consensus underscores the campaign’s success in capturing the sentiments and experiences of today’s youth, thereby heightening parental awareness of the challenges faced by teenagers and young adults.

In the weeks ahead, the #YouthSpeakUpLV videos will be unveiled on both United Way’s and Resilient Lehigh Valley’s platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. RLV partners, local schools, and stakeholders dedicated to fortifying youth resilience and mental health are encouraged to share this impactful content by following the hashtag #YouthSpeakUpLV and amplifying the message throughout our region. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) generously funded this initiative. 

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley has identified that supporting our region’s mental health across all age groups is essential to building a community where every person belongs and every person thrives. This collaboration with students is a testament to how organizations can effectively respond to the pressing youth mental health crisis. By empowering youth voices, UWGLV, RLV and Aevidum have forged a formidable platform for dialogue and understanding, tirelessly working toward a brighter, more resilient future for youth and community.


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