LIMA — Concerned about incidences of mental illness among youth, Lima students are launching a public service campaign to help their peers learn about their mental health and remind those who are struggling that they are not alone.
The We Hear You campaign, founded by the latest cohort of Allen Lima Youth Leadership graduates, tweets positive messages and makes bumper stickers so people know the facts about mental illness, which often develops during adolescence.
“We want to make sure that people know that we’ll be here,” said Braden Yingst, a junior from Perry High School and recent graduate of the Allen Lima Youth Leadership class, made up of 32 students from Lima-area high schools who attend leadership classes and create their own community service campaigns.
The We Hear You campaign strives to reconnect people with their why: their motivation or inspiration for living, which can feel distant to someone living with depression, anxiety or severe mental illness.
“They might lose that ‘why’ in life,” Yingst said during a presentation to the Lima Rotary Club on Monday. “We want to make sure that we hear them, that we can be that ‘why’ for the We Hear You project.”
One in 10 young people experience a major depressive episode in their lifetimes, said Nicholas Chambers, an Allen Lima Youth Leadership graduate who worked on the We Hear You campaign.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in teenagers 15 to 19 years old, said Chambers, of Lima Central Catholic High School, while half of all mental health conditions start to develop by age 14.
The We Hear You campaign will be most active on social media. Its Twitter account, @WeHearYou21, shares daily inspirational messages designed to connect with anyone living with a mental health disorder or anyone who wants to learn more about their mental health.
But the students plan to take their campaign on the road too, designing bumper stickers, yard signs and other messaging to reach audiences who are not active on social media.
“The goal is for people to see this, either on cars, in yards, and question why: Why are students doing this? What’s it about?” said Jazmyn Scott, a Shawnee student who worked on the project’s design and promotions team. “We’re doing this to promote mental health awareness and help people who are struggling to feel less alone.”