Youth for Mental Health
Reaching Out @ Mental Health Matters Day
The sea of lime green ribbons sprawled in front of the state capitol was just one feature designed to make Mental Health Matters Day stand out. The bright accessories, worn by the Inspire staff among other leaders,visionaries, and young people in attendance, reflected attendees' collective effort to draw attention to the need for reducing stigma and raising awareness of mental health.
As part of the larger mental health movement supported by the Stigma and Discrimination Reduction campaign run by California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), Inspire was thrilled to participate in the mental health and community-based resource fair that kicked off the day. Along with providing temporary tattoos and materials on the ReachOutHere and Busca Apoyo campaigns, we also hosted a "Sink Stigma" beanbag toss and invited attendees to write encouraging notes to their future selves. ReachOut Peer Supporters and Text Supporters were also on hand to answer questions and share their stories of providing support online and via text message.
"Glee" star Max Adler (pictured here with ReachOut volunteers) and director Bradley Buecker returned to announce the winners of the competition. This year, the contest was extended to University of California students along with high school students across the state. While only four entries received the top prize (see all winners and videos here), all the submissions were impressive for creatively communicating a powerful message around suicide prevention or ending the silence around mental illness.
by Meredith Sires, Web Editor
ReachOut Celebrates Diversity & Community
Soka University’s International Festival is an exciting annual event where people, nonprofits and businesses all over Orange County come together to celebrate diverse cultures. As a Soka student and Peer Supporter, this year, I volunteered to attend and represent the ReachOutHere campaign.
A brutal heat wave had settled over Aliso Viejo that week, but thankfully my fellow peer supporter Susana arrived with a sturdy canopy, a 38 pack of cool water bottles and some snacks. The provisions refueled our spirits and with newfound energy, we proceeded to reach out by sharing our experiences with ReachOut.com and inviting students to chat and potentially get involved.
Our booth was surrounded by a festive atmosphere generated by the international theme with people in traditional garments, delicious smells wafting from ethnic food stands and foreign tunes in the air.
All this reminded me that these outreach events are more than just publicity projects, they can create a special space for people to take refuge. The smiles that our volunteers give at our booths inspire hope and introduce the spirit of ReachOut.com. Ideally, it will help others smile, lend an ear or give a compliment. As I've learned in the forums, you might not always see the effects of your actions, but rest assured, you are making someone at least a little bit happier.
by Roberto De La Pena, Jr, Peer Supporter
Talking ReachOut TXT @ YTH Live 2014
YTH (Youth + Tech + Health) is a multi-day conference centered around the intersection between health and utilizing the technology most relevant to youth in order to reach them. Topics span from texting and sexual health to blogging about mental health. It's an innovative, modern approach to old problems.
As a ReachOut Text Supporter, I had the privilege of watching ReachOut California Director Nicola Survanshi speak about our program alongside a Planned Parenthood representative, who spoke on a program that allows those with questions or concerns about sexual health to text in and receive answers. The response was incredible, with people in the room asking questions that ranged from our availability outside of text hours to how to launch a similar service in their own community.
After the talk, Will, another ReachOut TXT Supporter, and I fielded questions from those around us, and I was amazed at the support and interest from people asking about the texting service, sharing their own projects, and offering encouragement.
I had to leave early in order to attend my volunteering shift as a text supporter, but I still managed to attend the “By Youth, For Youth” talk, which featured speakers who presented on programs that promoted health among youth. And as I headed to Powell Street, my head buzzed with the information I’d received.
“There is a community of people who care about health and youth,” I thought. “That’s amazing.”
by Echo Yupan Lu, ReachOut Text Supporter
ReachOut Goes to SOKA