Social connectedness is essential for learning the life skills that, from an early age, allow us to build, participate in, and maintain relationships. Through relationships we are cared for, feel we belong, and learn how to communicate.
OCMH Strategic Focus – Social Connectedness of Youth – Definition
Youth are socially connected when they are actively engaged in positive relationships where they feel they belong, are safe, cared for, valued, and supported.
Five Categories of Social Connectedness of Youth
We believe all organizations and individuals that touch children's mental health work can identify work they are already doing, or could do, in at least one of the following five categories: Family, Supportive Adult, Cultural Identity/Community, School/Early Education, and Peer.
Increasing the Social Connectedness of Youth offers tremendous promise for improving children's life skills and well-being. We are excited about the possibility of engaging a wide range of partners, from early education, state departments, community organizations to business, in addressing this agenda together.
If relationships with parents/primary caregivers have been positive and consistent, a young person's foundation will be strong, and they will be better prepared to build relationships as they move through life. As children grow they also need connections with peers and other supportive adults to feel that they belong at school and in their community. Feeling accepted and having their culture accepted are crucial for young people in building this foundation and achieving success at school and in life.
Positive and strong social connections make for resilient youth that are able to better navigate mental health challenges.
To measure success, we will look to state, local, and program level measures. This includes data from the National Survey of Children's Health, Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and satisfaction surveys from program partners.
In the initial phase of our work we have established three teams to focus on three of the categories of Social Connectedness:
We welcome people and organizations focusing on families and children's mental health to join this effort for increased collaboration and coordination. For more information about the Children's Mental Health Collective Impact work, please contact us at OCMH@wisconsin.gov. If you have difficulty accessing our materials, or using our website, please let us know by emailing OCMH@wi.gov.
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