New Effort Supports Mental Health for Local Youth

A new partnership supports eight area nonprofits to foster positive mental health outcomes

September 13, 2023

We are thrilled to partner with ACE Resource Network to jointly launch the Culture Is Mental Health Project, a program designed to foster positive mental health outcomes for local youth by connecting them with community health workers who reflect their culture, language, and experiences.  

The effort is timely. Young people across the nation report worsened mental wellness and efforts to enhance mental health are complicated by deeply ingrained stigmas and a critical shortage of behavioral health professionals, among other factors. 

With the support of the Culture Is Mental Health Project, Sacramento Youth Center's participants will create collaborative musical projects that dismantle stigmas around mental health.

"Supporting the mental wellness of young people in the Sacramento region is an investment in the future of our community," Kerry Wood, our chief executive, says. "When we prioritize their well-being, we sow the seeds for a brighter, more resilient, and compassionate community for generations to come, and we are proud to partner with ACE Resource Network and local nonprofits to champion this important cause."

ACE Resource Network, a national organization dedicated to raising awareness about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress, and supporting people who have experienced early adversity, provided funding for the Culture Is Mental Health Project. 

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Said Sarah Marikos, MPH, Executive Director of ACE Resource Network, "We are proud to partner with the Foundation and its partners to increase healing spaces, connections, and resources that are culturally relevant and responsive to young people's needs. We believe that the Culture Is Mental Health Project will help serve young people and communities throughout Sacramento who may have a higher prevalence of ACEs and intergenerational trauma."

Over the coming year, eight local nonprofits will use the $250,000 awarded through the Culture Is Mental Health Project to bolster mental wellness among area youth. One nonprofit will connect Natives attending local community colleges to essential health and wellness services. Another will empower young people to utilize art to address substance abuse issues within their peer groups. Each program will reflect the cultural needs of the youth it serves, overseen by community health workers who share similar backgrounds. 

Leaders of organizations that received funding underscore the importance of this approach in addressing mental health challenges and nurturing positive outcomes. 

With the support of the Culture Is Mental Health Project, Maria Hernandez's team at Tower of Youth will provide training to Native youth in digital storytelling techniques. The culmination of this effort will create a podcast series celebrating voice, identity, and community. Hernandez noted, "The podcast will shed light on the prevalence of mental health conditions within the Native youth population, illuminate their narratives, and pave the way for open dialogue. It will foster a space where discussing mental well-being becomes natural." 

Michael Lynch, CEO of Improve Your Tomorrow, is also committed to the approach. With the Culture Is Mental Health Project's support, his team will empower youth mentors to champion active listening, guidance, and referrals for the young men of color they serve. "Mental well-being should never be a silent struggle. This is a declaration to young men of color that their well-being is paramount," Lynch said. 

The Race and Gender Equity Project will offer culturally grounded healing through yoga, dance, therapy, and mentoring to the youth it serves with the support of the Culture Is Mental Health Project.

In addition to Tower of Youth and Improve Your Tomorrow, programs at La Familia Counseling Center, American River College’s Native Resource Center, Native Dads Network, Sacramento Youth Center, The Race and Gender Equity Project, and Waking the Village are also supported by the Culture Is Mental Health Project.

About Our Partner

ACE Resource Network's mission is to reduce childhood adversity and trauma by promoting a greater understanding of childhood trauma and toxic stress; advancing research and policy; and increasing healing spaces and resources. was launched by ACE Resource Network as the first national public awareness campaign focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).