The #YouDefineYou Project is a nonprofit organization that serves communities across Virginia by advocating for mental health education and reform. The project consists of 17 college students that have a passion for mental health education and legislation. Working to close the gap between mental health care and communities across the Commonwealth, the organization advocates for easier access to mental health care and services. In 2017, Virginia was found to have one of the highest amounts of Youth Major Depressive Episodes without mental health care in the country. According to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, there has been a 5.4% increase in suicide rates over the past four years in Virginia.
The #YouDefineYou Project works to help bring knowledge to why Virginians need affordable mental health care and education. To break the stigma of mental illness, the organization speaks at school assemblies, rallies, and conferences to educate citizens about the importance of mental health education. The nonprofit also works with Virginia’s Elected Officials to help create legislation that will provide mental health facilities to low-income areas.
Regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation or religion, The #YouDefineYou Project believes that everyone should have the basic human right of obtaining mental health care.
- In Virginia alone, 130,000 adolescents live with a serious mental illness. (vakids.org)
- Only 1 in 5 children that live in Virginia have access to mental health care. (vakinds.org)
- Suicide, which can result from the interaction of mental disorders and other factors, was the second leading cause of death among children aged 12-17 years in 2010. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8)
- In the United States, the cost (including health care, use of services such as special education and juvenile justice, and decreased productivity) of mental disorders among persons aged <24 years in the United States was estimated at $247 billion annually. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12)
What We Do
What’s Next For Us…
Founder Lauren Brocious at the #WEVOTENEXT Summit in Los Angeles
- In 2019, The #YouDefineYou Project will be launching clubs at three different college campuses; Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. The organization hopes that students will help spread the mission of mental health advocacy to their surrounding communities by educating others about the importance of mental health.
- In 2020, the organization plans to hold it’s first mental health walk that will support mental health education in Richmond City Schools.
The “#YouDefineYou” Project is looking for social media, school ambassadors, mentors, contributing editors, and community members to help spread the word about the mission of the project and also get individuals involved in the community. We are looking for the kind, passionate people that have morals that aline with our mission. This is NOT a paid position, however, we are willing to write letters of reference and we encourage you to put this on your application. To get involved, please click on the “Get Involved” Tab found up top.
2017 State of Mental Health in America – Ranking the States. (2017, November 15). Retrieved February 09, 2019, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/2017-state-mental-health-america-ranking-states
Brocious, L. (2016, April). The #YouDefineYou Project. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://tydyp.wordpress.com/
Jouvenal, J. (2018, December 19). Virginia jail’s lack of medical and mental health care probably violates Constitution, Justice Department report finds. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/virginia-jails-lack-of-medical-and-mental-health-care-probably-violates-constitution-justice-department-report-finds/2018/12/19/a5b56170-03da-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html
Learn About Mental Health – Mental Health – CDC. (2017, January). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
Mental Health For VA Kids. (2017, June). Retrieved from https://vakids.org/our-work/mental-health
Press, T. A. (n.d.). Report says suicide rates in Virginia are slowly increasing. Retrieved from https://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Report-says-suicide-rates-in-Virginia-are-slowly-increasing-502661782.html