MENTOR Vermont launches Youth Mentoring Mental Health Pilot

Vermont Business Magazine MENTOR Vermont has announced the launch of their “Youth Mentoring Mental Health Support Pilot Program.

Post-COVID, many young Vermonters are struggling with unaddressed mental health needs and mentors are often who youth turn to for guidance. MENTOR Vermont has partnered with Jen Colman, a Burlington-based psychotherapist, to provide professional counseling and coaching to mentors in collaboration with program coordinators to better support the mental health needs of youth in mentoring programs. The Youth Mentoring Mental Health Pilot is made possible with support from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Next Step Grant, the A.D. Henderson Foundation, and the Oakland Foundation.

Jen, who has a MA degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of St. Catherine, in St. Paul, MN, and an MA in Psychology and Counseling from Goddard College in Vermont, will work directly with adult mentors to provide professional counseling and coaching in collaboration with program coordinators. Clinical guidance will be provided to volunteer mentors, providing effective mental health support to youth who otherwise would not be able to access care amidst the state’s mental health systems operating beyond capacity.

“This collaborative model will far exceed the capacity of traditional individualized psychological care, while still maintaining quality, confidentiality, and best practices,” said Jen Colman. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with mentors and mentoring programs to help support the work they do for the youth in our community.”

Notably, this pilot will provide year-round support for youth and mentors. During summer months and school breaks, there are significant gaps in youth services because schools are closed, and social workers are not under contract. Youth are left without critical services, leading to loneliness and vulnerability.

King Street Center, which provides after-school and summer programming for youth, has already benefited from the mental health pilot. “Program staff, like myself, are often not trained to provide therapeutic counseling,” said Gabriella Tufo  Strouse, Director of Community Outreach at the King Street Center in Burlington. “Being able to reach out to Jen as a sounding board has helped me provide guidance and support to our King Street mentors.” 

About MENTOR Vermont: MENTOR Vermont aims to close the mentoring gap and drive equity through quality mentoring relationships so every young person in Vermont has the supportive mentoring relationships they need to grow and thrive. To achieve this vision, MENTOR Vermont provides funding, resources, and support for youth mentoring programs throughout the state. In addition to managing the Vermont Mentoring Grants, the organization provides technical support to mentoring program staff, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, works with programs to ensure they are meeting best practices, and leads statewide mentoring initiatives. MENTOR Vermont is the state affiliate of MENTOR National. For more information about mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mentorvt.org

Source: Burlington, VT (April 2, 2024) - MENTOR Vermont

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