Teaming up to support youth mental health with Celtics United

Adolescent mental health issues have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 40% of teenagers stating that they struggle with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Point32Health and Celtics United are taking steps to address these issues head-on.

In winter 2024, representatives from Point32Health, the Boston Celtics and Celtics United visited the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy in Dorchester as part of the second event of our Spread the Health partnership. This event focused on the role mental health plays in the lives of Black youth in the Greater Boston Area.

Launched in 2021, Spread the Health presented by Point32Health is a Boston Celtics United initiative focused on health topics – mental health, food insecurity, health equity, maternal health, and more – that impact the health and wellness of Black and Brown communities.

“In the urban populations, we just don’t talk about the things on our minds and may be stressing us out…so I think bringing these types of ideas, skills, events and awareness to children is the right step,” said Sophia Stephney, principal at the Davis Leadership Academy.

For this Spread the Health event, students in grades six through eight got to participate in a number of activities designed to empower them with tools to support and improve their mental health. These included:

  • A guided chair yoga session with instructor Akeem Lloyd.
  • A mindfulness discussion and guided meditation lead by Boston Celtics Director of Mind Health and Wellness Dr. Candice Williams and Point32Health mindfulness teacher Zeenat Potia.
  • A visit and talk with Boston Celtics player Neemias Queta.

The highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of two reflection rooms for students, featuring comfortable seating, relaxing meditative areas, art with words of affirmation and positive mantras and a work or drawing space, provided by Celtics United and Point32Health.

“We want you all [the students] to utilize this space when you’re feeling troubled, as opposed to when you’re in trouble,” said Kash Cannon, director of community engagement for the Boston Celtics. “It’s not a detention room – it’s a room for you to be calm, relaxed and really just tap in with yourself.”

The next Spread the Health program with Celtics United which will focus on maternal health will take place in spring 2024.