Mental health is a significant focus area for Rotary.  We welcomed the head of one of the major organizations in Maine to talk with us this morning as we welcomed the president and CEO of Sweetser Jayne Van Bramer, and the organization's Senor Director of Public Relations, Justin Chenette.
Mental health is a key focus area of Rotary and our speaker this week is one of Maine's subject Area experts. Jayne Van Bramer is Sweetser's President and CEO Jayne has spent over 30 years working in the area of behavioral health. Jayne believes recovery is possible for every person with a behavioral health diagnosis. Sweetser is a non-profit providing a statewide network of community-based health, recovery, and educational services in behavioral health.
Jayne shared with us that in the case of youth, 36 % of Maine High school students feel sad or hopeless, the number for high school age girls is 50%.  14,000 Maine youth have depression, and 19% have considered suicide. Maine exceeds the national average for the rate of mental distress. Some of the causes, are the isolation provided by the covid pandemic, the increases in mass killings, the increases in hoaxes, concern for the very viability of life in the world, and the very significant pressures of social media.
One of the best practices is to be able to reach kids were they spend the most time, in their schools., and at a young age. Universal screening by mental health professionals can be done in the schools without the stigma or drama of having to search out help outside of school or home.One of the most significant challenges toward expanding out reach around the state is the availability of qualified clinicians. Kittery is one of the school systems in the state where qualified clinicians are available to work with students .
More information about Sweetser may be found at, on email they can be reached at
Club President Pam had Jayne sign a book to be donated to the Kittery School libraries in her name, with our thanks for her presentation