‘Free Your Feels’ Summit held to discuss mental health and suicide awareness
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The “Free Your Feels Teen Summit” was held in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon by nonprofit Silence the Shame and VoxATL.
The summit featured a panel of local youth who shared their experiences with managing daily stress and prioritizing wellness and shared ways to seek resources if needed.
The youth also participated in yoga and expression stations.
“We encouraged teens to speak out about mental health creatively, especially through podcasting stations, journaling, yoga and different outlets,” said Zariyah Allen, a Mental Health Editor and Board Member for VoxATL. “We also had a teen discussion on mental health and it was a really awesome experience to be a part of. We had “free your feels” videos to help find ways to avoid internalizing it. It could help to express yourself with a loved one or trusted person in your life or journal your thoughts.”
The summit also included a Parent Cafe for caregivers to engage in discussion with a licensed professional counselor to discuss teens’ resilience and promote healthy development.
“Mental health is always something that I have been passionate about. The human mind inspires me so much and interests me,” said Allen. “I also struggled with my own mental health so that kind of snowballed into me learning different coping techniques and learning about mental health advocacy and therapy.”
Suicide prevention was also discussed during the panel, with the added emphasis on suicide prevention awareness month.
According to the latest data by the CDC, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Georgians between the ages of 10-34.
Earlier this month, there was a viral movement to find missing 26-year-old Savannah Sheats.
“Atlanta Police put out a missing person’s report for Savannah Sheats, who graduated from the University of Georgia. Within two days, Savannah’s body was found inside her car, parked less than two miles from her house. Officials said she died of suicide.”
Sheats’ family is also trying to raise more awareness on suicide prevention and ways to stay connected and recognize possible signs with loved ones.
Earlier this month, Skyland Trail, a mental health treatment center, hosted a 5K run/walk that benefits mental health treatment.
Veteran Atlanta music executive Shanti Das is the CEO/Founder of Silence the Shame, (created in 2016) which focuses on “eliminating mental health stigma, reducing health disparities, and improving rates of suicide among vulnerable populations.”
Allen suggested for those who may be struggling with their mental health ways to make themselves feel happy. “Keep in mind that your mental health is important,” she said. “Find ways that engage you. If you’re a visual learner, find cool graphics or comics and ways to help you with your mental health. Center yourself around people who care about you and find ways to engage you.”
For more information or to join, visit VoxATL.org.
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