by Laurie Goodman

In May, The Girls Inc. national network is taking a moment to champion the mental health of girls.

Girls today face a broad range of mental, social, and emotional health challenges stemming from the pressure to please and succeed, the effects of media, prejudices and inequality, and violence. Unfortunately, the growing movement to fight sexual harassment and assault has not included a focus on the impact that sexual harassment and violence have on girls’ mental health – both directly, as a result of trauma, and indirectly, through the influences of media and culture.

Mental health is important at every stage of life and is critical for a girl’s success in school and beyond. At Girls Inc., we provide girls with a sisterhood of support, long-lasting mentoring relationships, and programming and experiences that help girls foster positive mental health. We also advocate for policies and practices that assure girls receive the health services they need most.

Why?

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10-24.
  • 1 out of 5 high school girls seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
  • 1 in 10 girls, ages 10-17, have low body esteem.
  • 10% of high school girls have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse.
  • 1 in 8 high school girls who had dated during the previous 12 months was abused by a dating partner.
  • 25% of high school girls have been bullied (physically/verbally/electronically) on school property in the past year.

Here is what the Girls Inc. Girls Action Network had to say to all girls:

Dear all girls,

We need your help. We need your help in erasing the stigma surrounding mental health, depression, stress, and anxiety. With your assistance, we can create a world where nobody walks alone. We can create an atmosphere where people feel safe enough and comfortable enough to seek help. Sometimes when we feel our worst, we choose to go through it alone. It is our responsibility to clear the air about mental illness. We need to change the shame because talking to a therapist isn’t weird, it’s normal. It’s natural even to want somebody objective to talk to, to advise you, to be there for you. We need to change the stigma because too many are battling on their own, and because for many, suicide is still an option. With proper education and services, we can help those who can’t help themselves and we