LOS ANGELES — High school can be a challenging time for students. Mack B. said he’s seen his classmates struggle with anxiety and, at times, depression, mostly because of social media.
“At least three or four times every day without fail. I see something along those lines. I just resolve all my conflicts in person,” he said.
Mack, 16, is one of 1,300 youths who use the allcove Beach Cities youth mental health center space in Redondo Beach that opened a temporary site about six months ago. The site features an after-school hangout space, college and career counseling and mental health services for South Bay youths ages 12-25.
Recently, the Beach Cities Health District, who oversees the center, received a $6.3 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Services. The grant will go toward creating a permanent site on the southwest corner of Beryl Street and Flagler Lane in Redondo Beach, according to BCHD. Mack said he spends time after school in the current space.
“Work on homework or study and that it’s really one, youth driven and two, adults are here to be the guardrails like guides. But not taking the front and center role,” he said.
John Hooper, who now works with allcove Beach Cities, is a former youth advisory group member who designed rooms and spaces to feel more inviting and less clinical. It’s a space he could have used when he was younger, Hooper said.
“What I personally struggled with was telling people, verbalizing to somebody if I was struggling. I think if I was acclimated to a facility like this, I would have felt very welcomed and I would have felt the desire to come back,” Hooper said. “I think that’s what the hope is here, so people can feel comfortable surrounded by peers.”
Ali Steward is with BCHD. She said staff and current youth advisory group members are already planning out the layout of the new space.
“They’ve had an opportunity to do everything from interview service providers and staff, selecting furniture,” she said.
In the meantime, Mack said it’s a comfortable place to be.
“I’m able to manage that by capping it off at the source by not really getting into social media, but if something were to come up, i would definitely approach them here.”
Construction for the new site is expected to be completed by April 2025, according to BCHD.