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Youth Listening Sessions Happening Across Northern California

Kaiser Permanente and Mental Health California are partnering on sessions this year that will spotlight voices of youth in foster care and juvenile justice to encourage stronger mental health programs.

Mental Health California, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, will launch a series of Youth Listening Sessions across Northern California in 2020. The sessions will provide a space for youth ages 16 to 26 in the foster care and juvenile justice systems to engage in honest dialogue and self-expression with the aim of strengthening California’s youth mental health programs to better serve their needs.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, California is in the midst of a youth mental health crisis. Nearly 1 in 3 high schoolers reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row. Youth who experience childhood trauma face further challenges that are difficult to overcome. For example, according to the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, youth with past exposure to adverse childhood experiences are at a higher risk for PTSD, substance abuse, and maltreatment with health and well-being later in life.

“When you think about children in foster care or the juvenile justice system, they are often at risk for not getting the mental health help they need and are more likely to have greater problems that have an impact on the family and community,” said Kristene Smith, CEO, Mental Health California. “The goal of our Youth Listening Sessions is to create a stronger mental health care system for some of our children in California.”

The Youth Listening Sessions will spotlight the voices of youth advocates and ensure they are heard. Youth will be invited to share their experiences, states of health, and well-being in ways that can lead to positive change. Northern California sessions will be held in Sacramento on January 17, Oakland on January 23, and Fresno on January 30.

“The number of youth across America who struggle with mental health continues to increase,” said Janet Liang, president of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. “Connecting with youth early on with tools, resources, and support can dramatically improve that young person’s future. That is why Kaiser Permanente is committed to working with our mental health community partners to promote self-advocacy in youth experiencing mental and emotional health needs.”

Kaiser Permanente is looking at ways to mitigate the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences. Hearing directly from young people who have been impacted will bring important insights to upcoming initiatives and serve as a guide for service providers who have a vested interest in delivering trauma-informed services to individuals and communities impacted by trauma. This project aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s focus on adverse childhood experiences and further supports Kaiser Permanente’s efforts around mental health and wellness.

The 2020 listening sessions will include youth panels, presentations on the status of California’s foster care and juvenile justice systems, as well as a discussion on the impacts of trauma on system involved youth.

Event: Sacramento Youth Listening Session with Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families
Date: Friday, January 17, 2020
Time: 4:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Location: Valley Hi-North Laguna Library
Sacramento, CA

Event: Oakland Youth Listening Session with First Place for Youth
Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020
Time: 4:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Location: Youth Uprising
Oakland, CA

Event: Fresno Youth Listening Session with Transitions Children’s Services
Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020
Time: 4:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Location: Fresno Art Museum
Fresno, CA

About Mental Health California
Mental Health California™ is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization providing mental health education through teaching, training, publishing, new media, and special programs. We produce an innovative multi-media magazine featuring a wide array of mental-wellness issues of importance to Californians across the lifespan. We also provide training, education, and awareness campaigns, and present community forums and special events. Our experience in multi-cultural outreach and communications allows us to offer multi-layered awareness programs tied to specific communities or cultural groups. For more information, visit

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. For more information go to


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