Almost everyone knows someone who struggles with mental health, whether it is a family member, a friend or oneself. When trying to navigate ways to assist others, it is often easy to feel helpless.
However, St. Louis initiatives offer opportunities for teens to get involved.
Senior Leigh Bird found a way to assist those struggling through opportunities with the counseling center and experiential learning.
Bird volunteers for the Kids Under Twenty One (KUTO) Crisis Helpline, a helpline that is youth-staffed and offers a promise that teens “will talk with someone who knows what it’s like to be a young person.” Bird went through a month of training to qualify.
Work at the helpline started as a way to gain experiential learning that coincides with her interest in psychology and criminology, but, Bird continues to volunteer at KUTO when she has the time.
“There are a few hard topics that we cover because we do role playing with the calls… there were a few topics that I’ve been around… but they teach you how to get through it,” Bird said.
KUTO offers four types of volunteer opportunities specifically tailored to teens.
Additionally, French National Honors Society (FNHS) members have volunteered for Safe Connections, an organization focused on preventing domestic violence that also provides free counseling for those in crisis or recovery.
FNHS members volunteered their time by gardening and cleaning the handicap entrance of the building. The club has also organized school-wide drives during the holiday season in order to collect presents that survivors of domestic abuse can give to their children.
The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program said, “Your skills can make a huge difference for a charity you care about… many local and national charities need skills in a variety of specialized areas, but don’t have the funds to hire a professional. You can help meet this need by giving to charity without worrying about money.”
However, if volunteering isn’t right for someone, there are other ways to help. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) organizes 5k walks to “raise awareness of mental illness and raise funds for local, regional and state NAMI organizations.”
The St. Louis 5k will take place Saturday, May 4, at Center Park in Chesterfield.
The St. Louis branch of NAMI also offers three different types of workshops for those seeking more information on mental health, ranging from seminars to mental health-centered first aid classes.
Lindsey Bennett – Feature Editor
This is feature editor Lindsey Bennett’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She has attended JournalismSTL’s Spring Conference and MIPA’s J-Day.
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