Created for teens, by teens, the FLX Teens are Alright campaign aims to improve mental health literacy for middle- and high-school students, to help them feel less alone and encourage them to seek help if needed.
“Teens are experts at being teens, so when things are being developed for them, they should have a seat at the table,” says Hannah Shippee, a program coordinator at Common Ground Health, which helped develop the initiative in partnership with the Monroe County Library System, Pioneer Library System, and Rochester Regional Library Council.
In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, a zine, posters, stickers, and bookmarks—with captions such as “You don’t have to figure everything out right now” and “It takes guts to seek help. It’s never too late.”—are now available in 74 libraries across Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties.
The culturally relevant materials, designed by graphic design professors and students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s "Command g Design Lab,” shed light on this generation’s unique challenges, social anxiety, toxic positivity, and more.
“Anyone outside of the social media and smartphone generation will never, never fully understand what it's like to be a teenager right now,” said Deena Viviani, a young adult services librarian at Brighton Memorial Library and a consultant on the campaign. “And they shouldn’t underestimate teens’ intelligence and understanding of what they're going through. The hardest part for teens is reaching out to find trusted adults who will listen and help instead of saying ‘You’re fine’ or ‘Everyone worries.’ Instead, they should be asking ‘What do you need?’”
More than 300 teens applied for 15 slots on the project team, which had students of different races, ethnicities and gender orientations from grades 8 to 11.
Hailey Evans, a 17-year-old junior at Perry Central High School who has dealt with depression and anxiety since her freshman year, is one of them: “I just want people to know they're not alone in this world. They are brave, they are strong, they are amazing. And no matter what, if they need the support, they have it.”
Here’s what teens involved in the campaign most want their peers to know:
—Emotions are normal and valid
—You matter and are not alone
—Our generation is facing unique challenges that adults may not understand
—Speak up for yourself and ask for what you need
The campaign, funded by the Network of the National Library of Medicine, underscores Common Ground Health’s efforts to confront systemic issues, promote community engagement, and make health a priority outside the doctor’s office.
To see the materials, stop by your local library. To view them electronically and to learn more, visit healthikids.org/flxteensarealright.
The campaign’s social media hashtags are #flxteensarealright, #mentalhealthawarenessmonth, #youthmentalhealth, and #mentalhealthliteracy.