NAMI starts middle school support group
Teens don’t need a diagnosis for #OK2Talk, a safe space to share their challenges.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Austin has started its first support group for middle schoolers.
The group, called #OK2Talk, is up and running at KIPP and is starting another one that is open to any middle-schooler. It’s free because of funding from the St. David’s Foundation.
Teens don’t have to be suicidal or even have a diagnosis to sign up. They just have to want to talk to other kids who are dealing with some of the same mental health struggles.
“We know the need is there,” said Karen Ranus, the executive director of NAMI Austin. Statistics show one in five kids ages 13-18 in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition in any given year; only half of them actually receive services.
“This is the perfect age,” Ranus said because often they feel so alone and this is often the time when kids start feeling overwhelmed, with increased anxiety and depression. The support group will help them know that there are other kids like them, Ranus said. “It’s a safe space to share their challenges.”
While the support group is not therapy, there will be mental health professionals there who will help teens learn some coping skills. The group meets noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays at the African American Youth Harvest Foundation, 6633 U.S. 290 Frontage Road., Suite 307. It will include pizza or sandwiches as well.
To sign up, download a registration form (go to namiaustin.org, hover over Support and select #OK2Talk for Teens) and return it to #OK2Talk program director Jessica Miller at email@example.com. She can also be reached at 512-420-9810 ext. 1003.
Have more questions? Call Miller or check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the namiaustin.org site.
Ranus hopes to start a high school group in the fall and bring more support groups to other middle schools.