Depression and mental health, stress issues, and school and homework related stress top the list of issues the youth of Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Presque Isle Counties feel are affecting their peers, according to a recent assessment conducted among youth in those communities.
The Northeast Michigan Youth Advisory Council (NEMYAC) recently completed a Youth Needs Assessment Survey, gathering the opinions on the known issues currently affecting youth. NEMYAC is a youth philanthropy program through the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) which teaches young people the importance of philanthropy, and helps them develop leadership skills through grantmaking and community service.
Every three years, Youth Advisory Councils, or YACs, throughout Michigan are required to survey their fellow youth to gain insight into the issues the youth feel are the most pressing for their local communities. The final results of the survey are used to guide the Council’s grantmaking for the next three years to address those issues. Grants from the Northeast Michigan Youth Advisory Council are awarded through the Kellogg Youth Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation.
“The results of this survey provide a good snapshot of what youth are facing in our communities, and give our YACs, our board, and even other funders and private donors in northeast Michigan a guide to help direct funding and donations where it is needed most for our youth,” says CFNEM Executive Director Patrick Heraghty. "Mental Health, depression and stress issues have been a top indicator for our youth's well-being for several years now. Clearly this is something on which our YACs, the Foundation, and the whole community should be focusing."
CFNEM Program Officer Kara Bauer LeMonds says that depression, mental health and stress have remained high on the survey results across all nine counties in CFNEM’s service area, which also includes three geographic Affiliate Foundations (see end of article).
“The fact that these issues remain so high on the minds of our youth are reflective of the general need in our entire community and region,” says LeMonds. “These issues must be addressed on many levels, and for our YACs and other grant screening committees, these results are a good place to start. But there is much work to do.”
As a leadership activity, YAC members, working with their adult advisors, oversee the distribution of this survey to students in their own schools. The 2022 Northeast Michigan Youth Needs Assessment survey includes feedback from 1,375 students at high schools in the CFNEM service area of Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Presque Isle Counties. Once survey results are compiled, the list is narrowed down to the ten issues sited most as needing attention. Those ten issues for the 2022 survey are:
- Depression / Mental Health Issues
- Stress Issues
- School Work / Homework
- Bullying / Cyberbullying
- Body Image / Appearance Issues
- Teen Suicide
- Self-Esteem Issues
- Teen Substance Abuse (drugs / alcohol / tobacco)
- Lack of Things to Do Locally
- Teen Sexual Behavior
“Not every application that comes to the Youth Advisory Council will address the topics in this survey, and they don’t necessarily need to,” said LeMonds. “However, we hope these results will encourage local agencies to enhance their efforts in tackling these issues with the knowledge that our YAC has a desire and ability to put funds toward those programs.”
To learn more about the Community Foundation’s NEMYAC, or to support this group of young philanthropists through donations to the Kellogg Youth Endowment Fund at CFNEM, visit www.cfnem.org.
CFNEM's three Affiliate Foundations' YACs Youth Needs Assessments reflect survey results of youth in those particular communities:
- Iosco County Community Foundation Youth Needs Assessment
- North Central Michigan Community Foundation Youth Needs Assessment (Crawford, Ogemaw and Oscoda Counties)
- Straits Area Community Foundation Youth Needs Assessment (Cheboygan County and Mackinaw City)
The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan is a charitable organization committed to providing people who care about the future of our area with unique and effective ways of supporting their community now, and for generations to come. Led by a volunteer board of local citizens, the foundation oversees a group of permanently endowed funds from a wide range of donors. Gifts of all sizes from individuals, families, businesses, and agencies are invested in a balanced, well-managed portfolio to build endowments, enabling support for students and local community nonprofits now and forever.