STARS CGI Youth Town Hall: A Discussion on Mental Health
February 13th, 2021

STARS CGI Youth Town Hall: A Discussion on Mental Health

February 13th, 2021

On February 13th, 2021 our STARS CGI Fellows led a Town Hall conversation with special guest, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, to discuss #mentalhealth. Topics included access to resources, holistic forms of healing, environmental/community support, legal reform, as they relate to mental health.

Opening with a Q&A, Fellows engaged Councilwoman Rivera with a span of questions ranging from ways New York City Council can assist youth facing mental health challenges to community programs that support our city’s most at-risk members. Afterward, our Fellows led attendees through breakout room conversations on each of the 5 topics in order to build a set of action steps to present to the City Council.


Check the highlights and action steps from the event below!



Here is a list of action steps generated by our youth to raise mental health awareness in their communities!



1) More Diversity in staff and authority figures so students can have a safe connection to adults that understand their cultural and environmental upbringing. 2) Introduce mental health conversations with parents. There is a generational disconnect in which parents lack the ‘know-how’ in how to facilitate these types of conversations. 

3) The onus should be on adults and teachers to check in on students on a regular basis and not assume that everything is ok. Anonymously surveying kids to address what’s happening in their lives and guide conversations based on the survey results. 


1) Trained therapists aren’t necessary! Youth seek empathy and humanity from teachers and other adults in schools that can offer a listening ear to a student in crisis. 

2) De-stigmatizing mental illness and having more formal extensive education in schools that goes beyond just a unit in health class. Mental Health should be a larger part of the school’s curriculums, just like Physical Education is a part of the curriculum. 

3) Creating a more systematic way to create more peer support for youth struggling with mental illness 


1) Educate Police Force on how to handle mental health crises. In NYC, FDNY is dispatched in addition to NYPD, when a 911 emergency call is placed. Trained members of the NYPD should be dispatched to calls as well. 

2) Teenage alcohol abuse is not often discussed! Teens are masking their Mental Illness with overconsumption of alcohol. There are a lot of “Say no to Drugs” campaigns out there, but alcohol abuse is just as severe of a crisis in the youth community 

3) Schools need to diversify curriculums to include Mental Health. 


1) Introducing yoga and restorative exercises and breathing exercises for students, faculty, in school communities. 

2) Schools should partner with other schools, once a month to create a better-supported community 

-Teachers w/ teachers 

– students w/ students 

3) Community allies partner with schools to bring resources and outlets to their community to talk, build relationships and address their needs. 


1) It takes a village mentality. Creating spaces for families to connect with their neighbors. Properly utilizing ‘community rooms’ in housing facilities to build bonds and diffuse ‘beef’. 

2) Educate community leaders on “How to respond” to someone facing a mental health crisis. “I am here for you” is not sufficient. 

3) Funding more support groups and non-profit organizations that can facilitate dialogue. 

February 13th, 2021