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With teen suicide sharply on the rise, United Healthcare pledges $3 million to address mental health

Wednesday the philanthropic arm of United Healthcare announced a partnership with Active Minds, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health among young adults.

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Wednesday, United Health Foundation announced a $3 million grant dedicated to addressing key mental health concerns, primarily among young adults. The partnership between Active Minds and the philanthropic arm of United Healthcare coincides with the release of the 2022 America's Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report.  

United Health Foundation has been tracking data specifically among women and children for six years, and trends show a sharp rise in suicide rates.

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Between the years 2012-2014 and 2018-2020, there has been a 29% increase in suicide among teens ages 15-19. Male teens are at three times as high a risk, according to the report.

"Certainly the data we're seeing in the report today is demonstrating that increase is happening," Alison Malmon, founder of Active Minds, said. "There is no question that some of this is related to the COVID pandemic, and the struggle... youth and young adults had to be a part of."

The $3 million commitment will take place over three years and address key findings from the report, including an increase in suicide, anxiety, and depression.

Dr. Arethusa Kirk, vice president of clinical strategy for United Healthcare, said the good news is she's finding it easier than ever for families to speak openly about mental health.

"We also see that there's been a decrease in the stigma about talking about mental health issues, so when families come into our practice, they are definitely willing and open to talk about the stressors that they've been having with the COVID-19 pandemic."

Active Minds Suggests using the acronym VAR as a way to talk to people about mental health concerns. Validate, Appreciate, and Refer. 

Validate what the person is saying to you, appreciate their concern, and refer them to professional help, support groups, or other mental health resources.

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