Here at Boys & Girls Clubs of Polk County our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. Experience has taught us that to achieve this goal, we must prepare for a wide variety of challenges faced by the children we serve. Our team cares about each child’s overall wellbeing, including their mental health. With an ongoing mental health crisis among young people nationwide, it is more important than ever that we address the mental health needs of our members. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life” and being mentally healthy includes “learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems”.

That’s why, as a part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, BGC Polk is proud to announce that we are placing a Mental Health Coordinator at each of our 10 Clubs. Funded in part by a voter approved ½ cent tax supporting indigent health care, and administered through United Way of Central Florida, this represents a significant expansion of our existing mental health services. These trained professionals will strengthen our support for each child’s mental health by providing short term crisis support. They’ll assist us in identifying strategies for preventing bullying, promoting self-confidence, and raising emotional intelligence.

These interventions will aim to assist specifically those with ongoing behavioral or mental health struggles and will tie in with our existing Positive Action curriculum. Positive Action emphasizes the importance of making good choices and helps our members to understand how those choices are linked to how they feel about themselves. Working together, these initiatives will give our members the social-emotional tools they’ll need to make positive choices as they grow. Those positive choices will benefit not only our members, but all of us, when our community gains another productive, caring, and responsible member!