The COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus pandemic, has caused many Americans across the country to adapt to a new reality following the devastating economic fallout. According to the CDC, 40% of Americans have reported they were struggling with mental health issues since June, with 31% reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. Young adults and teenagers have also been severely impacted, with many unsure about the future of their academic pursuits with school closures due to social distancing restrictions and a pivot to online learning.
To help with the transition, programs like Peer Health Exchange are working with young adults to help them learn to cope with their mental health issues. Angela Glymph, Ph.D., vice president of Programs and Strategic Learning of Peer Health Exchange, discusses why organizations like hers are so important especially during this time.
“I’ve been working with the organization [since] 2014,” says Glymph in an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I was working for the U.S. Department of Education mostly on the national assessment of educational progress. My job was to report on the achievement statistics of young people across the country and really to report on how well young people were achieving academically. I was reporting the same story, which was that achievement gaps continue to persist with Black and Latinx [youth] and those from low-income communities still being left behind.”
“I felt like if I had [a program like this] I probably would’ve made better decisions. I started working for the organization which really resonated with me, the youth empowerment, and also the peer part of the program resonated with me as well,” she added.
Glymph also expresses the importance of these programs knowing the impact it would have had on people like herself when she was at that age. “I would just say the mission really resonated with me because it is about empowering young people with knowledge skills and resources they need to make healthy decisions,” she added.
“We train students and facilitate health education workshops in schools on [dealing with mental health issues] and it just took me back to my 14-year-old self. [This was] knowledge and skills and information about resources that I did not get when I was in the ninth grade. It was necessary for us to link them to young people who could relate to the challenges they were facing.”