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Girl Scouts of Maine providing opportunities to help youth mental health

According to the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, youth mental health issues are increasing at an alarming rate in Maine, especially among girls.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Girl Scouts of Maine are trying to make a change across the state in helping our youth's mental health. 

The organization is training staff members and volunteers to be youth mental health first aid facilitators thanks to a $5,000 donation from Saco and Biddeford Savings Institute.

Olivia Neely is a senior at Old Town High School who has been in the Girl Scouts since the first grade. 

"I think there's so much Girl Scouts can do to help others and help young girls get through some of those hard times and find ways to cope with stuff," Neely said.

Statistically, girls are struggling more with mental health than boys, according to Dawn Walker-Elders, adult learning manager for Girl Scouts of Maine.

"Specifically girls, we have seen a vast increase in the last 10 years with measurements looking at suicide rates and attempted suicide rates increasing among young girls," Walker-Elders said. 

Girl Scouts is much more than just selling cookies, they offer programs ranging from financial literacy to outdoor activities, to help girls like Neely navigate through life as a teen.

"It has driven me to who I am today to be able to have these conversations and public speaking, and have the opportunities I have received through Girl Scouts. It [has allowed me to grow] to who I am, to be more confident, embrace myself for who I am, and Girl Scouts have really [helped me] to make new friends," Neely said. 

The Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, and to make the world a better place — and that's exactly what they are doing.

If you would like to enroll your daughter in Girl Scouts or if you would like to become an adult volunteer with Girl Scouts of Maine, click here.

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