CVS Health is proud to be a partner of Girls Inc. and a supporter of Girls Inc. Week, which is being held May 7 to May 11. We recently spoke with Judy Vredenburgh, Girls Inc. President & CEO about the organization and what Girls Inc. Week is all about.
Tell us a little about Girls Inc. and your mission.
Girls Inc. is the nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. We teach girls to value themselves, take risks, and discover their strengths so they can develop them. We want girls to grow up healthy, educated and independent. Our network of local Girls Inc. affiliates serves girls ages 6-18 at more than 1,400 sites and close to 400 cities in the United States and Canada.
What is Girls Inc. Week and the #DearGirl campaign?
Every year, the Girls Inc. network hosts Girls Inc. Week to draw attention to a particular issue that affects girls. The focus this year is on mental health and the importance of well-being and its criticality at every stage of a girl’s life.
On May 10, we are issuing an open letter written by the Girls Inc. Girls Action Network to girls everywhere that reminds them they are not alone and it is ok to experience negative feelings and look for help coping with these feelings. There is a certain stigma surrounding mental health, so the goal of this campaign is to begin chipping away at that stigma, to start a discussion about mental health, and to encourage girls to seek the health care services they need.
Why did you choose to focus on mental health?
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that more and more young women are struggling with mental health conditions, yet not receiving adequate treatment. For instance, the rate of severe depression in youth rose from less than 6 percent in 2012 to more than 8 percent in 2015. Around three-quarters of these youth are not receiving adequate treatment.
Unfortunately, high school girls are about twice as likely as their male peers to consider committing suicide. Several factors likely play a role in this discrepancy. For instance, girls are more likely to experience sexual harassment and assault, to be the subject of cyberbullying, and to encounter media messaging and imagery that promotes body dissatisfaction. These can have a variety of harmful effects on mental health.
We know that mental health is important at every stage of life and is critical for a girl’s success, and it has a huge impact on girls and young women and their ability to lead healthy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives. Helping to eradicate the stigma of mental illness, depression, anxiety and stress will bring hope to girls and let these girls know that it is ok to feel what they are feeling - that there is a bigger community of people who care. That it’s ok to seek help.
How can people get involved and help spread the word about #DearGirl?
We want to build a community that shows commitment to girls’ mental health, so we are asking our partners and supporters to craft their own #DearGirl messages - whether in the form of letters, poems, videos, or pictures. We want you to share these messages on your own social media accounts using the hashtags #DearGirl and #InHerCorner and to reshare other poignant messages from the community that reinforce the idea that girls have the right to be safe, to pursue healthy lifestyles, and to access essential health care services and support.
How can readers get involved with Girls Inc.?
We offer supporters various opportunities to become involved, whether they are interested in advocating for policies that support girls, fundraising, donating themselves, or working with a local affiliate.
- To learn more about taking action with Girls Inc., please visit https://girlsinc.org/take-action
- To find a Girls Inc. affiliate near you, please visit https://girlsinc.org/find-girls-inc
- To connect with Girls Inc. on social media, please visit https://girlsinc.org/take-action/social-media-ambassador