Organizations are always looking for ways to reach out to teens with their anti-drug message. As adults that are trying to prevent our young people from getting involved with drugs and alcohol and help improve their mental health, it is a struggle to get the message across. The fact is that teens don’t often relate well to adults, and therefore, tend to tune out their important points. The governments and agencies have been trying for years to inform teens about resources that are out there to help them, but few teens have sought needed help. We shouldn’t give up that easily, however. The message to stay away from dugs and alcohol, and to seek help for any kind of mental health problems, is vital.
We’ve seen the negative consequences that occur when teens abuse drugs and alcohol, or when they suffer from depression or mental illness. Teens often feel alone in these situations, and a lonely teen with these feelings can act out or do things that are dangerous to themselves or to others.
In an effort to provide information and help to teens, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is sponsoring a new media campaign, called We Can Help Us. It addresses the benefits of teens working together to deal with teen issues. This campaign can be found on tv, radio, and magazines, but its main means for reaching teens is its website. Called “Reach Out”, this website is by teens, for teens. On the site, teens can find real-life stories from other teens who have gone through the same struggles. They can also find fact sheets about mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse. Reach Out can also connect teens with resources to help them, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Reach Out is geared toward young people, ages 13-24, and serves a geographically diverse group of users. An average of 30,000 visitors use the site each week, giving many opportunities to reach those teens that need help.
Learning Through Interaction with Peers
The website is not operated solely by teens. SAMHSA set up the site and runs it with the help of a team of experts. The main message, though, is that teens can learn from their peers about positive ways to get through the struggles of teenage years. The goals are to increase mental health literacy, reduce the stigma attached to mental illness, and increase the number of young people reaching out and getting help. SAMHSA hopes that this campaign is also used by other organizations that reach out to youth, and that our youth can be happier and healthier because of it.