Mental health awareness campaign uses texting to target teens, young adults

EAST GRANBY, Conn. (WTNH) — A text-driven national mental health awareness campaign is targeting those 14- to 24-years old, an age group where more than half are struggling with mental health issues.

“It began in June 2013 when President Barack Obama called for a national conversation on mental health in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook,” said Valeriano Ramos of Text, Talk, Act Campaign.

Students at East Granby High School are taking part in the unique approach to get them involved in breaking down the stigma of mental health. Tackling the uncomfortable subject starts with something they are comfortable with doing, texting to spark discussion.

“How many people have you tried to help with mental illnesses?” said sophomore Angelica Moquette. “It was surprising the facts that we got back. It was very few people that would actually stand up and help.”

“How many people don’t get treatment for mental illnesses, that boggles my mind,” said junior Ben Tuczinski. “It’s like 41-percent, 43-percent, that’s insane.”

That was followed by talking about what was going on among friends.

“Anxiety, definitely since coming into high school, I’ve had a few cases of my friends being depressed,” said freshman Carrie Tuczinski.

“If you expressed it, you’re scared that somebody will make fun of you for it,” said Morgan Bradley, also an East Granby High School freshman.

Lastly, they take action.

“They like can’t get up in the morning, they are having a really bad day, just sit down and talk to them, ask them what’s up, make their day better,” said Ben Tuczinski.

“Usually in order to help my friends feel better, I just comfort them and try and remind them what makes them a truly good person,” said Carrie Tuczinski.

“If I see them alone, that’s who I make friends with, that’s the people I especially talk to,” Moquette said.

“Something I learned from the Text, Talk, Act was getting to hear somebody else’s side of the story and what they felt,” said Bradley. “You can learn anything from that really.”

“What we found is that so many youth who participate gain a better understanding of the issue of mental health,” Ramos said. “They become more comfortable talking about it and then they get more interested in learning more, and engaging others, and participating, and advocating.”

Experts say the right words at the right time can indeed be a life-changer or save a life.

The campaign goes through May 31st. For more information on how your school or community can get involved, click here.

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