PEERspectives

Format

PEERspectives is a youth-focused program that extends the impact of our flagship program Changing Minds: Stories Over Stigma. This workshop is designed for students who identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ and want to explore the intersection of identity and emotional well-being. Facilitated by trained Changing Minds: Stories Over Stigma young adult speakers, youth are invited to be SEEN. HEARD. CONNECTED. CELEBRATED.

Through a facilitated discussion, youth will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of how stigma impacts the mental health of marginalized groups and also to reflect on their individual experiences. By exploring the narratives society holds about specific identities, students are invited to share how that informs the narrative they hold about themselves. Through sharing their perspectives, students feel seen and heard.  Building on the power of authentic storytelling and connection, this group of peers will be empowered to find and celebrate the unseen joys in their groups while being invited to connect more deeply with themselves, their peers, and their community. At the end, each group will determine how they want to continue the conversation and continue to elevate their PEERspectives. This interactive 60-90 minute program is most effective when delivered in-person in a private and informal setting. 

Recommendations for success:

  • This workshop is a complement to the Changing Minds: Stories Over Stigma program. It is most effective when scheduled after the group has participated in a Changing Minds program. 
  • Recommended for established affinity group with an advisor or affiliated adult. This is not required and is not a barrier to scheduling a workshop or its impact. 
  • A flexible and private physical space is helpful. For example, a classroom, library, or room where participants can be seated comfortably and feel they can speak openly. 
  • To maximize the effectiveness, an in-person workshop is preferred. There are no tech requirements.  
  • Suggested time: 60-90 minutes.

Benefits

Recent research has confirmed what participants already know: members of marginalized groups experience higher rates of mental health struggles and less access to supportive services than their white, cis, or straight peers due to external and internalized stigma. The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that across the board youth are struggling: 1 in 5 seriously considered suicide and 1 in 10 attempted suicide. This figure dramatically increases for youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ with a staggering 1 in 2 youth (nearly 50%) who seriously consider suicide. Similarly, a recent study on the findings from the national Healthy Minds Study revealed that over the last ten years mental health challenges worsened for all racial and ethnic minority student groups with a significant increase in symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation when compared to their white peers. 

PEERspectives directly aims to intervene in these statistics. Opportunities to support marginalized youth to develop a deeper sense of connection to their peers and school has been proven a protective factor for vulnerable youth. Research and guidance from the CDC and The Trevor Project direct schools and community groups to create safe spaces, affinity groups, and improve the overall experience of inclusivity as a proven method of suicide prevention with additional tangible benefits of improving mental health outcomes for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ youth. Most recently, The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. 

 

Designed For:

Youth ages 12 and over
Young adults
Youth who identify with a marginalized group

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“These speakers are always remarkable. The time, the energy and the care they put into their presentations. It has been life changing for students to learn about the speakers’ stories. Many have shared with me that they have now opened up to someone about what they are feeling and going through because of Minding Your Mind. I cannot thank you enough.”

Krista Gainty, health teacher

PEERspectives is that safe and affirming space. When youth connect in this format, they are able to change the narrative about who they are and their experience by learning from others, sharing stories, and broadening their PEERspective. Through reflection and connections, youth are empowered to identify how they want to continue the conversation and shift their group, school, or community culture. 

Fee: $500

Recommended Presentation Time: 60 – 90 minutes

Locations: Greater Boston, Philadelphia region, New Jersey

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