On September 19, 2023, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), the largest girl-led organization in the world, announced the launch of three new mental wellness patches within the Movement’s Mental Health Initiative, which was launched in 2021 in response to the mental health crises today’s young women face. Designed for girls in grades four through 12, these new patches provide useful tools to help them safely identify and explore their feelings, seek support, and find resources for help. The themes focus on mental wellness, resiliency, behavioral issues, and health habits. Studies show that girls are disproportionally affected by the increasing mental health crisis in America . National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) data reveals that nearly 90% of parents prioritize their child’s mental health over academic achievement.
“NAMI is proud to support Girl Scouts’ effort to raise awareness for mental health and well-being with the patch program,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. “The reach and ability to support girls across age groups with tailored resources and activities is incredibly valuable not only for the girls but also for parents and caregivers. We hope by making it easier to talk generally about mental health with a trusted adult; girls will feel more at ease sharing concerns or asking questions.”
The patches include:
Knowing My Emotions (grades four–five): Designed to teach Girl Scout Juniors positive coping skills and how to name their feelings.
Finding My Voice (grades six to eight): Girl Scout Cadettes learn about stigma, helping friends, being mindful on social media, and practicing self-care.
Showing Up for Me and You (grades nine–twelve): This patch program equips Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors with tactics for practicing self-care and coping mechanisms to handle difficult situations for themselves and others.
Each patch program includes an adult facilitator guide to help adults sensitively approach girls, prompt important conversations, and guide them through difficult moments. Program materials also contain meeting aids, parent/caregiver resources, teaser activities, and marketing tools to equip Girl Scout troop leaders and council staff with support and activities focused on mental wellness, behavioral issues, and healthy habits. Resources are also available to the public in the Girl Scout Activity Zone, where people can explore and download free wellness programming and activities.
As part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that the well-being of youth is fully supported, GSUSA rolled out a slate of innovative mental wellness resources for Girl Scouts and training for council staff, volunteers, and parents/caregivers during Mental Health Awareness Month in 2022.
“Fostering positive mental health habits has always been a focus of our work with girls, and we recognize the critical need to build these programs now more than ever,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of GSUSA. “Earning these patches teaches and encourages girls to take actions that are incredibly important to reducing the stigma around mental health.”
These patches, made possible by the HCA Healthcare Foundation and developed in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the GSUSA Program Advisory Committee, including HCA Healthcare behavioral health experts, are part of GSUSA’s continued commitment to providing solutions to the national mental health crises young girls are facing. GSUSA has released research, including Girls Speak Out About Mental Health in 2020 and programming like Resilient. Ready. Strong. and Youth Mental Health First Aid/Mental Wellness 101.
“We are proud to continue partnering with Girl Scouts on this research-based mental wellness program,” said Joanne Pulles, vice president of community engagement at HCA Healthcare and president of the HCA Healthcare Foundation. “Girls need support now more than ever, and thanks to the reach of the Girl Scouts model, we know that these resources have the potential to make a positive impact on countless young women.”
GSUSA is continuously working to destigmatize mental illness, normalizing conversations around mental health and mental illness, and will continue to develop inclusive programs for Girl Scouts of all backgrounds. To access valuable resources to support girls’ mental well-being and join Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org/mentalwellness.