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Mind Body Matters: Meeting the moment for mental health education

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General and the CDC issued warnings about the growing mental health crisis among adolescents girls and LGBTQ+ youth. Girls Inc. of New York City has long prioritized the mental health of our students, integrating wellness concepts into all of our programs as well as enhancing and expanding our signature mental health education program, Mind Body Matters.

State of Adolescent Mental Health in the U.S.

Pandemic safety measures have taken young people out of school and disconnected them from their peers during a crucial period of adolescents’ social-emotional development.

  • In 2020, more than 6,600 10 to 24-year-olds took their lives.

  • Emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose 51% for adolescent girls and 4% for boys in early 2021 compared to 2019.

  • In 2021, 44% of U.S. teens report feeling “persistently sad and hopeless,” compared to 37% in 2019 and 26% in 2009.

  • 74% of LGBTQ youth and 63% of female youth reported emotional abuse at home (2021).

Compounding the isolation and distress of the pandemic, the highly visible episodes of police brutality and racist violence have further intensified stress levels, fear, and untreated depression.

  • Among U.S. high school students, 64% Asian, 55% Black, and 54.5% multiracial students reported perceived racism (2021).

Even among our students, a significant proportion indicated that they’re struggling with mental health challenges. At the beginning of the school year, 51% of girls said they felt sad, while 39% said they sometimes couldn’t get out of bed, and 31% felt hopeless.

Mind Body Matters

Our digitized mental health program, Mind Body Matters, raises awareness about the impact emotional trauma can have on the physical and mental well-being of girls, families, and communities. Mind Body Matters teaches adolescent girls, especially those who identify as BIPOC, how to cope with the stressors in their daily lives and find inner peace through practices like meditation, movement, mindfulness, and journaling.

Research-based and trauma-informed, Mind Body Matters content is relevant to students’ cultural identities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program breaks down stigma and misconceptions about mental health to create a safe environment for students to share and process their emotions and seek help if mental health challenges arise.

Aligned with New York State curriculum requirements for mental health, Mind Body Matters covers:

  • Self-care and personal responsibility for mental health

  • Interrelated physical and mental health signs and symptoms

  • Suicide and self-harm prevention

  • Relationship between mental health, substance abuse, and detrimental coping behaviors;

  • Cultural attitudes that impact whether people seek treatment

  • Recovery and guidance on how to identify helpful resources for treatment.

Sample messages from the Mind Body Matters program


To meet increasing needs for mental health education, this past year Girls Inc of NYC has delivered the program to 2,000 students in grades 7 through 12.

"I was a very shy girl and now I feel more confident. I walk around with broad shoulders, an open chest. I became very bold and now I make more friends." —High school student
"An activity that helps me mentally, is check up [...] The teachers would ask us about our day and how it went and we could tell each other how our day was and how we’re feeling. We can’t do that normally in a classroom and some girls don’t feel comfortable talking about their day to their parents." —Middle school student

To expand the program to reach more students, Girls Inc of NYC has also trained 85 educators across 67 schools serving nearly 3,700 girls this year. After these trainings, 100% of educators reported feeling confident and well-equipped to teach the curriculum in the upcoming school year.

“[Mental health] is not usually learned or taught, especially in a school setting, with a specific focus on girls of color. This curriculum is needed, now more than ever [...]. GINYC has an incredible skill set in understanding intentional youth development and would be an amazing asset to any organization working with young people.” —Middle school educator

If you are interested in bringing Mind Body Matters curriculum to your school or agency, you may find more information about partnership opportunities here.

⁠IF YOU NEED HELP, contact these organizations for immediate assistance.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-8255 for English or 888-628-9454 for Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week⁠

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741⁠

The Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ persons under 25 years old: ⁠

  • Call 866-488-7386⁠

  • Text START to 678678⁠

  • Chat online 24/7⁠

Data sources:


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