For her first year of high school, Manvi Srivastava sat in her bedroom, looking at a screen, for eight hours a day. Isolation and boredom crept in, complicating an already difficult season shaped by “unspoken pressures” like getting into college.
Srivastava, now in 11th grade, is one of a generation whose teen years the pandemic upended. The interruption worsened an existing problem: increasingly poor mental health among the country’s young people. Her own journey, she said, has been a “rocky road,” smoothed in part by acknowledging freely when she needs help.
She hopes her candor can lead to others’. Almost a year after the U.S. Surgeon General drew attention to a “youth mental health crisis,” Srivastava and a cadre of mental health professionals in Tarrant County will gather to discuss how people can best support the well-being of young people.
The panel event, organized by the Fort Worth Report as part of its Candid Conversations series, will take place Nov. 11 at Texas Wesleyan University. Afterward, a program by the Women’s Policy Forum will explore mental health access in Tarrant County, trauma-informed care, and challenges in policy and funding.
If you go:
When: 8 a.m.-noon, Friday, Nov. 11
Where: Nick and Lou Martin University Center (second floor), Texas Wesleyan University. 3165 East Rosedale St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76105
What: Free community event with free parking. Complimentary breakfast will be served at 8 a.m., and the program will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m.
Get your free ticket here.
For the initial event, Dr. Nanette Allison, child and adolescent psychiatrist at JPS Health Network, will serve as a panelist alongside Diana Davis, clinical director at Alliance for Children; Michael Steinert, assistant superintendent of student support services at Fort Worth ISD; and Srivastava.
Susan Garnett, executive director of MHMR of Tarrant County, will moderate. She is heartened by Srivastava’s presence on the panel.
“I hope that people feel good that the next generation is thinking about these things and problem-solving for themselves in ways that previous generations couldn’t even imagine doing,” Garnett said.
In late 2020, Srivastava’s peers at Rock Hill High School in Frisco nominated her to join Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program in schools across the country. She accepted, hopeful to learn to help people who struggle with mental health.
The crowd is vast. In 2021, more than one in three high school students reported poor mental health, and nearly one in two said they felt persistently sad or hopeless during the last year, according to a nationally representative survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The panel will explore why the problem is so pervasive, as well as how adults can best support the young people in their lives. “We want them to know that there is help, there is hope,” Garnett said. “And we want to help them connect to the right people.”
Both Garnett and Srivastava point out that no solution is one-size-fits-all. “Help is different for everybody,” Srivastava said. Still, she hopes people come away from the panel aware that mental health is as important as physical health and willing to address it openly.
“When I started to get help for myself, I started to feel a lot better,” she said. “And I feel like trying to get that stigma away from mental health and having people feel more comfortable talking about it, I want to help make that happen.”
Alexis Allison is the health reporter at the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.