Nonprofit group Teens 4 Teens Help aims to help young people find path to mental health recovery

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Nonprofit aims to help teens find path to mental health recovery
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A nonprofit group's teen members are helping other teenagers find a path to mental health recovery.

For many teenagers, threats to their mental health is something they constantly battle. Some teens who have faced mental health challenges are now using their experience to help others.

It started when one young woman's cry for help turned into an effort to help more kids like her.

"I felt very isolated and alone," said Kara.

When she was in high school, Kara was losing her battle with anorexia. "I was at a very low weight and I had specific plans to kill myself," she said.

Her parents had no idea how low their daughter had sunk until it was almost too late.

"You know I kind of blamed them for some of my problems. And I didn't want to be honest about them with anything," Kara said.

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"We were flailing. We were told our daughter needed to go into a residential program for her eating disorder and we just didn't know where to go," said Kara's mother, Kathy Long.

Looking back, Kara said hearing a from a peer who understood how she felt, reached her. So she decided to be that person for others.

"I spoke at this school and a student came up to me and told me that he had been suicidal, but my story encouraged him to seek help," she said.

That encounter inspired Kara and her parents to create a safe digital space for teens where they can have access to mental health peer support, expertise and resources all in one place. Teens4Teenshelp.org has a core message for young people who are struggling.

"We need to get rid of the stigma related around mental health issues. Mental health and physical health are all part of who we are, and it needs to be addressed. And it's okay to be addressed," said Long.

Teens in this generation spend a lot of time on social media platforms watching videos of other kids. This website keys in on that phenomenon because they know this is how kids connect.

"A lot of people are scared to talk to other people, and so they'd rather have that kind of less personal experience of just watching someone else," Kara said.

"I don't want anyone ever feeling alone like I did," said Alissa, who is also a "recovery hero" and on the Teens 4 Teens Help board with Kara.

Alissa's story of recovery from depression and anxiety is also available online, 24-7. It's an experience that is helping her grow.

"I used to be really really shy about it and not talk about it. But I know that it's helping others", Alissa said.

Professional therapists review all the materials. The website has connected with thousands of young people worldwide in 55 countries.

It's been described as a community where everyone supports one another, which in turn, creates a powerful connection.

"I do expect us to grow and definitely become a viral movement," Kara said.