According to recently released results from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, American teenage girls are experiencing unprecedented rates of anxiety and sadness. Every 3 out of 5 girls in America felt “persistently sad or hopeless” in 2021, an increase by 60% from 2011. Moira Donegan, a Guardian US columnist, asserts that the “mental health crisis among teen girls is an emergency, one that is worsening.” She challenges our country to give teenage girls “lives of prosperity and hopefulness” and at Girls on the Run Bay Area (GOTRBA), we strive to meet this goal. Our mission is to give adolescents the tools to establish supportive relationships, build their self confidence, and maintain a positive mindset.
CDC director for adolescent and school health, Kathleen Ethier comments on the data released by her organization: “There is no question from this data that young people are telling us that they are in crisis.” What’s worse? She feels we aren't listening. Schools are currently one of the few places adolescents can receive mental health services, but school budgets are stretched and outside resources are expensive. GOTRBA offers a solution to help girls gain access to resources that help them cope with these negative feelings.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) is one key way clinical psychologists address mental health problems. CBT teaches us how to recognize our negative or unhelpful thoughts and reinterpret them to steer us towards positive feelings and actions.
At GOTRBA, our lessons establish ways we can address this “negative self-talk” using CBT concepts. During the course of our program, girls learn how to visualize their unhelpful thoughts as a cloud over their heads. Forming these thoughts into something recognizable in their brain helps them identify their worries and doubts. We then teach them strategies each week on how to activate their “starpower” and shine light, or reinterpret, these negative feelings in themselves and others into positive ideas, chasing the clouds away. Throughout the season, girls form a “toolbox” of strategies to help cope with their negative thoughts and feelings that they can tap into throughout their life.
Now, more than ever, girls need these strategies. Young people have asked for help, and GOTRBA is listening. If you think the GOTRBA program would benefit someone close to you, register for our elementary school program at https://www.gotrbayarea.org/3rd-5th-grade-program-details or our middle school teams at https://www.gotrbayarea.org/6th-8th-grade-program-details