Santa Monica High School will host a panel of mental health experts this week as part of an event series being put on throughout the Los Angeles area by non-profit ONE Recovery (ONE) with support and funding from the L.A. Department of Mental Health during May, which is recognized as mental health awareness month.
The upcoming Santa Monica Ask the Experts Panel will feature Timothy Fong, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and Don Grant, a media psychologist, published researcher and educator with specific expertise in technology’s impact on mental health. The discussion will be led by ONE CEO and founder Lynne Pedersen.
The goal of the organization is to provide preventative and early intervention services to young people who are struggling.
She views adolescence as an incredibly difficult time for many reasons, and feels that the current young generation is experiencing additional challenges that have serious implications for their mental health and wellbeing.
“They’ve got school shootings, they’ve got social media, not just an image of like ‘I need to be perfect’ with that pressure, but the availability on Snapchat and Instagram to get drugs that they would never otherwise have access to” Pedersen said, adding climate change and a tense political climate to the list. “I believe that this is the most resilient generation, but we’ve given them a lot of challenges.”
She said the ONE model provides support to any young person, whether or not they have been identified to have a specific condition or mental health issue, by connecting them to resources and each other.
“I believe that the power of human connection is what we’re looking for, it is what kids are missing,” she said. “So we created a space where it wasn’t necessary to have a diagnosis for entry.”
ONE has evolved over the years to include several different branches including on-campus and online support groups, a restorative justice program and community events to promote mental health awareness and education, such as the panel series.
Santa Monica is one of six locations selected to host one of the expert panels and Pedersen said it was selected due to what she sees as a clear need for more mental health support and intervention and education services in the city.
“It’s saturated right now with a lot of homelessness, a lot of violence, a lot of drugs…” she said. “So I really felt that these kids could really benefit from it [the panel].”
She added that each panel is tailored to the unique community and that the Santa Monica one will have a focus on addiction and drug use. The City has seen multiple overdose incidents in recent years, particularly among high school students.
Pederson said that she hopes attendees come away from the event feeling encouraged and empowered.
“We want to give them hope, encourage them to rise and give them the resources to make that happen,” she said.
The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday May 11 at Barnum Hall on the Samohi campus. Participants will be able to ask questions during the panel and can also submit questions ahead of time via email to inspire@1Recovery.com. For more information and to get tickets visit: https://www.oneoncampus.com/take-action-for-mental-health-la/