As people helping youth elevate their lives in the world, it is easy to see that our young people are up against a lot. More than ever, mental health is a vital topic to talk about with our young people. It is not just about the topic, but creating the environment and relationships needed to all these conversations to take place.

A recent study demonstrates the need for young people to build networks of relationships with other people their age and with a caring adult. This study looked at the impact of mental health challenges in schools and how well connected young people are to one another and to teachers within the school. The findings showed that when young people had one adult to talk to about life and struggles they were less likely to engage in negative behavior. We must continue to look for new ways to allow relationships to flourish between our young people and adults in their lives.

One of the schools that we work with incorporate a small groups model. Every week, for one hour, school staff meet with 10-12 students for the entirety of the school year. What is amazing about this is the consistency of meeting, the ability to create a safe space to have conversations and equipping teachers and staff to talk to youth and build relationships with young people.

We love what Orange has to say about small groups, building relationships with young people, and helping them thrive. There are a ton of great resources, curriculum, conversation guides and people to connect with to help see you influence the next generation. They are currently on tour talking about how to make your relationships personal and are meeting in May for their annual conference. If you are looking for some ways to connect with young people better, check out their leaders blog here.

When we step into the lives of young people, and win the right to be heard, we are able to leverage everything we have to help them succeed. More and more research is pointing to the importance of building positive relationships with young people, from peers, adults and entire communities. Keep growing in your ability to impact the lives of young people and see them thrive.

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