Providing Holistic Support for Youth in West Virginia
This spotlight was developed by Becky White, Marketing Director at Mission West Virginia, in collaboration with the RHNTC. Mission West Virginia, a TPP20 Tier 1 grantee, provides effective, evidence-based reproductive health education through its THINK program.
Mission West Virginia implements the THINK program as part of an optimal health approach to ensure youth have their immediate needs met, whatever they are facing. THINK helps youth get hygiene items, clothing, medical care, and whatever they need.
Bringing on our youth resource coordinator has been incredibly successful. Within this work, we get disclosures of sexual abuse, human trafficking, suicidal ideation, and other things.
The resource coordinator, a licensed therapist, works alongside our educators and meets with any students who have disclosed a particular need. She works individually with students to connect them to the right community resources and stays with them as long as they need a support person.
One student without any stable home support had a suicide plan. Since working with our resource coordinator, this student is now taking medication that has reduced their anxiety and depression, thriving in school, and doing excellent with no suicidal ideation or plans. Hearing stories like these reminds me how our work is worth it and the hours our staff take to work with students directly are meaningful and, in some cases, life-saving.
Developing a connection with the state school board has also been phenomenal. We did not have their full support in the past, which could have been due to religion, politics, etc. The community support we’ve built through our webinars, training, and local social workers and school counselors has helped create support within the board. Now the state school board fully backs our program.
We no longer have to go to individual county school boards because we have state approval. This presents a beautiful opportunity to expand into more counties within the state.