Trumbull's Prevention Partnership Helps Youth Address Mental Health Challenges

At a glance

Trumbull, Connecticut’s “Let’s Talk Mental Health” series encourages connection, provides support, and promotes social-emotional health among youth experiencing mental health challenges.

Screenshot from Let's Talk Mental Health, Trumbull session. Text on screen says, "LGBTQ 101, supporting the mental health of our LGBTQ youth," and shows an image of a pride flag, the presenter's name, face and pronouns. Photo Credit: Trumbull's Prevention Partnership

Trumbull's Prevention Partnership

TPAUD, Trumbull's Prevention Partnership, is a community coalition dedicated to engaging and mobilizing youth, parents and guardians, and community partners to prevent youth alcohol and drug use, foster social/emotional health, and build a safe and health community. TPAUD's activities focus on public education about the risks and consequences of underage drinking and substance use, as well as reducing access to alcohol, prescription drugs, and other drugs.

Local data drive what community coalitions, like TPAUD, funded through the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program do to prevent and reduce youth substance use. In the town of Trumbull, Connecticut, local data show that substance use remains low among middle schoolers and has fallen sharply among high schoolers since 2010.

TPAUD has been collecting data on youth substance use trends since 2007, before becoming a DFC recipient. While they were pleased to see that overall substance use rates continue to decline in Trumbull, recent data highlighted concerns related to youth mental health, a proven risk factor for substance use among youth. Data from a 2021 survey indicated:

  • 32% of middle school students and 43% of high school students felt "so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that (they) stopped doing some usual activities" in the past 12 months.
  • More than 1 in 4 high schoolers reported not knowing where to get help if they are concerned about mental health or substance use for themselves or loved ones. Studies have shown that young people with mental health challenges are more likely to use substances.1

Based on the data, TPAUD started the Let's Talk Mental Health, Trumbull initiative to encourage connection, provide support, and promote social/emotional health. TPAUD partnered with Trumbull Emergency Medical Services, the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council, and several local counseling service providers to develop the program. The program is a monthly speaker series, open to the community, that highlights topics around mental health and offers practical tools and accessible resources. All sessions are recorded and available through local access cable TV and the TPAUD website.

So far, Let's Talk Mental Health session topics have included the importance of talking about mental health, the pressure to be perfect and its unintended consequences, how to support the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, and how to overcome anxiety. The Let's Talk Mental Health series is a part of an effort to improve the school climate to support students who identify as LGBTQ+, a proven protective factor against risky behaviors like substance use and suicide in young people.

"We are committed to breaking the stigma around mental health challenges and giving our community tools and resources," says TPAUD Executive Director, Melissa McGarry. "We must start with open conversations about the tough topics families are facing."

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Adolescent Health: What Works in Schools. Division of Adolescent and School Health.