Austin Haller, Mackenzie Newell, and Audrey Bauske, three THS students and members of Friday Night Live (FNL), joined with representatives from Cal Poly, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo High School, and Arroyo Grande High School to take part in this year’s Youth Innovation Idea Lab at UC Santa Barbara. These SLO country representatives and their adult allies joined over 150 youth from Ventura, Kern, Imperial and Santa Barbara counties to discuss innovative ways to increase preventative mental health services and brainstorm creative solutions for mental health and wellness with their peers from across southern California.
The Idea Lab is an intensive, interactive, and free-thinking environment where adult allies join with youth leaders to immerse themselves in a collaborative thinking process. The goal of the “lab” and the workshops and breakout sessions to provide expertise, vision and dreams of what youth mental wellness can look like. The workshops focused on the development of an innovative concept to increase preventative mental health services in schools using youth-led approaches.
“My time at the Youth Innovation Lab was an eye opening, unforgettable experience. It was nice to have other perspectives from outside of SLO county about mental health issues. I’m glad that I had this opportunity to help make a difference in mental health resources and making people more aware of these issues.” — Audrey Bauske
The idea for Innovation Lab came as a result of collaboration between the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission’s Youth Innovation Committee, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern, and San Luis Obispo counties.
Austin Haller taking his turn presenting to those in attendance.
“There were so many great youth minds all in one room trying to come up with a solution to help with mental health problems that students across the country are facing.” — Mackenzie Newell
Mackenzie Newell presenting in a breakout group
THS students took part in large group discussions and presented their thoughts, ideas, and experiences in breakout groups with teens and mental health experts from across the 5 counties.
Two additional Idea Labs will be hosted in early 2020 in the Sacramento and Shasta regions. The project will conclude with a Youth Innovation Summit where the results of the project will be showcased and celebrated.