COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Isolation, drugs, and stress have really taken a toll on students' mental health during the pandemic. In our Healing Together series, we're taking a closer look at how teenagers are coping with it all and one youth group is helping their peers stay on track.
“With COVID and isolation, it’s been very traumatic for many people,” said Cherod Bowens, a Senior at Bishop Hartley High School and a member of the Franklin County Youth Council.
Since the pandemic, high school students like Bowens have been meeting virtually almost every day talking about drug abuse, stress, and other mental health issues.
“Stress from school, not being able to go to school physically, has really been hard because I’m a hands-on learner,” said another council member Cameron Evans, a junior at Reynoldsburg High School.
The council has also kept these kids to be grounded during an unprecedented time.
“I see you guys as friends, not just council members, and the self-care questions really help me self-evaluate,” said another member, Esma Sezen, a Hilliard Darby High School Junior.
“They are so passionate about their work, they’re motivated, and they’re really fulfilling the mission of the council and this is to amplify youth’s voices,” said the Franklin County Youth Council Director Susie Shipley-Norwood. “They’ve made it possible to engage other youth and make them understand that whatever they’re going through that they’re not alone and it’s ok to talk about it.”
The council was created in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting. It was an initiative to engage young people to talk about addressing mental health issues among their peers and with the help of several local organizations they're voicing their concerns.
“They’re having a health, mind, body movement where they have invited, they had reached out to the panelists,” said Shipley-Norwood.
And potentially saving lives.
“Just yesterday I had to pull someone on the side and say hey I’m here for you,” said Bowens. “You’re not broken, you’re not wrong, it’s ok. Your mental health is really important and this is the start of your journey to get right back on track to being happy and being yourself.”
The council is actively recruiting new members. There are no requirements to join and it's free.
If you would like more information go here.