Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Twenty percent of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition. SRSLY, a coalition formed here in Chelsea in 2008 to help support adolescents with mental health issues, is here to lend a helping hand without taking over.
“[We are] definitely putting you guys in the driver’s seat,” SRSLY Chelsea Director Kate Yocum said.
The biggest portion of the rebrand has been shifting the group’s focus to incorporating mental health resources and awareness. This new focus will be in addition to their already established background in encouraging youth to live substance-free lives.
“I want people who are struggling to know that they’re not alone,” Yocum said. “I think that just kind of scratches the surface, though.”
Some of the most important points to come from the new program includes awareness, education, support, and de-stigmatization of mental health issues.
“I think that SRSLY has definitely changed for the better over the years,” student Hannah Shooshanian (‘23) said.
Shooshanian feels that the program was helpful while they were younger but as they grew older it became harder to relate to.
“I think that revamping the program for the high school and talking with students will be very beneficial in helping us relate to their message,” Shooshanain said. “I really like that they’re bringing mental health into their programs, and I like that they are acknowledging the fact that drugs aren’t just used for fun or because kids are bored.”
Yocum is also very excited about the prospects of future programs after the rebrand.
“I was hired last September, so because of COVID it’s been really hard because I feel like I’ve been trying to craft programs for [students] that [they] didn’t get to give live input on,” Yocum said. “Just being in a classroom, and having [students] give me input as I discuss has been a huge game changer.”
Another exciting change is to come. Soon, Yocum will be working inside of CHS on Tuesdays and Fridays, continuing to build the connection between SRSLY and students in the community. Beginning on November 15, Yocum will have “office hours,” ready to work with students on improving the community.
“We’re planning to have weekly meetings in The Commons of CHS so students can give input and ideas on projects as they’re being planned,” Yocum said.
Throughout the rebranding process, one thing has been abundantly clear: everyone working on the program is ready to work with Chelsea youth to create a better support system.
“One of the things that I look forward to most is getting to know all of you,” Yocum said. “ My goal is to know people by name, have them instantly waving to me in the hallway, and for people to always know that they can just drop in with any suggestions and ideas for partnerships.”
SRSLY’s website (srsly.org) has resources for those who are struggling, ranging from out
patient counseling to immediate help for times of crisis. Even if you do not require that type of support, the site includes wonderful educational material about mental health and alcohol/drug statistics.
“We want students to know that they have access to people who care about them,” Yocum shared. “I want them to feel comfortable getting support.”
Originally published in the CHS Bleu Print