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Harm Reduction Mentality 

 "Harm reduction" refers to a range of public health policies or practices intended to reduce harmful outcomes of behaviors in which a person may choose to engage. For IYG, this means our focus is not necessarily on changing the behavior of a youth, but reducing the harm of that particular behavior. Because we operate with a youth-centered approach, we value the importance of self-determination and the spirit of collaboration. Giving the youth directives may work to alter their behavior for a short period of time, but providing them with accurate information and a safe space where they feel they can be honest can help them make a realistic plan with goals that they set and in which they are invested. In the end, they may choose to disengage from the undesired or unhealthy behavior, they may choose to alter the behavior to decrease the associated risk, or they may choose not make any changes. Regardless, they have the information to make an informed decision and have access to resources should they want to pursue a different outcome.

THRIVE: Dare to be Powerful, is one example of a harm reduction program that is offered at IYG. CAST is a suicide prevention program that is evaluated and listed on SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). There are three main goals in the CAST program: increase mood management, improve school/work performance, and decrease drug involvement. With these bigger goals in mind, participants set their own personal goals that they feel are realistic, measurable, and desirable for them personally.

There are exceptions when using harm reduction is not appropriate. Immediate action must be taken if the youth reports self-harm, harm to others, being abused, or suicidality. All IYG staff and volunteers follow state and federal mandatory reporting laws for child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse. If you are being abused or suspect child abuse or neglect, you can call 9-1-1 or the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, you can call 9-1-1 or contact The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.


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