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Creating a community of care

This has been a hard year. During the pandemic, we have each navigated uncertainty and loss and, at the same time, identified vital ways to cope. As we honor Mental Health Awareness Month this May, City Year is committing to do more to promote the mental health and well-being of our entire community, from our AmeriCorps members, who support the holistic development of students, to our staff who show up for the corps.

We are growing in our understanding of how important expressing care and taking care of ourselves, our students and our teams are to our work and to our communities.

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Check out this Mental Health Awareness Month launch video that briefly describes why mental health is central to our work in schools.

We aspire to build a culture where both our corps and our staff feel truly supported in caring for themselves as they show up for others and where it’s okay to talk openly and honestly about the challenges we are facing and to seek support.

City Year AmeriCorps member student success coach

Taking care of ourselves and each other

City Year has offered our community more flexible time to cope with the impacts of the pandemic and additional mental health resources, such as free access to a mediation app thanks to the generosity of Ten Percent Happier.

We want to do even more. Paying attention to our mental health and supporting the holistic well-being of those around us are critical components of our work with students in schools.

City Year Kansas City Impact Manager, Anthony Lawrence produced an in-depth podcast about mental health in schools.  The episode explores how mental health stigmas affect our students, how we can encourage healthy conversations, and when it’s necessary to connect student to mental health professionals, so they can access the services they need.

We all have mental health just like we have physical health

Our mental health falls along a spectrum and is not static. We can build mental health “muscles” such as rest, gratitude and connection. Going for a walk with a friend, taking a nap or deep breath, and logging out of work email in the evenings when you really need to decompress are ways we can practice self-care and strengthen our mental health.

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Cleveland author and City Year recruitment manager Martinique Mims has created a powerful poem-video “Catch the AIR” that describes what depression and anxiety can feel like and the importance of caring for ourselves and our community.

People have been differently and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This month, we are exploring different themes with City Year AmeriCorps members and staff, such as the connection between equity and mental health and the difference between self-care and community care.

Throughout the month of May, we are offering our community perspective and opportunities for engagement that we hope will help AmeriCorps members and staff feel seen and supported. We are creating a new online hub for our community with resources designed to support their mental health and are inviting our community to share their reflections and experiences.

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Explore this video by The Jed Foundation on the importance of community care.

Different people will need different things at this time. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we hope you lean into what is helpful to you and that you make space to honor the importance of your mental health and well-being, not just in May, but every month.

Learn more about how City Year is supporting the mental health and well-being of our corps:

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