Four teenagers will share their experiences with mental health at an upcoming youth advocacy event on Nov. 12 hosted by the Wisconsin Friendship Circle.
The Ted Talk-style function, One Thing I Wish You Knew, is part of the organization’s UMatter initiative, which aims to help teens and adults destigmatize mental illness and foster inclusivity. The event was planned before the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, yet organizers say they will still hold it, with the need for mental health resources as great as ever.
A resource fair with representatives of local organizations — including Jewish Family Services, Rogers Behavioral Health, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Wisconsin — alongside community advocate Brooks Griffith will be present.
For the past year and a half, Wisconsin Friendship Circle Executive Director Rabbi Levi Stein sat on a committee at the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health where he and his colleagues researched how to best support children facing mental health challenges. The committee found that opportunities for youth to share their experiences with a wider audience, peer support, and the presence of trusted adults are integral approaches to tackling these issues, according to Stein.
With this in mind, he said the get-together combines these approaches, and that “by turning it into a very large event, it spreads awareness and breaks the stigma that still is surrounding mental health.”
According to a 2022 survey by the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, 22% of Wisconsin high schoolers report self-harm, while a quarter of female students and almost half of the LGBTQ student population report seriously considering suicide. The report also points out that Wisconsin falls short — by nearly half — on the amount of mental health professionals that states are nationally recommended to have.
One Thing I Wish You Knew will take place from 4-6 p.m. at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, which is located at 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Whitefish Bay. Everyone age 13 or older is welcome to attend and can register through the organization’s website, FCWI.org.