McNeese organization focuses on mental health awareness for young people

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:07 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Small Steps organization held an interactive dialogue to encourage youth to open up about mental health in a safe environment.

Ta’Maya Davis founded the McNeese organization in 2021.

“I quickly become to realize that mental health is something that, it affects you know, every sex, every gender, every age, every person, and a lot of times it causes a divide and it causes people to isolate,” said Small Steps Founder Ta’Maya Davis. “And I wanted to change that and I wanted us to use it as a tool to bring us together.”

Globally, it is estimated that 14% of 10-19 year-olds experience mental health conditions, yet these remain largely unrecognized and untreated.

“I feel it’s really important to educate our youth about mental health, because kids who grow up knowing about mental health are more inclined to seek help when they need it, and they’re more inclined not to go down that path, that’s so hard to come back up from,” said Hannah Beniot, psychology major at McNeese.

The event included a digital survey that helped open a dialogue about mental health.

Students were asked if they felt mental health was a myth or a fact.

“81% said that it’s a myth. 19% said that it’s a fact. Drum roll, please, it’s a myth,” said Davis. “And this one says, what are some activities that help you when you are feeling sad or stressed? "

Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits important for mental well-being. Some adolescents are at greater risk of mental health conditions due to their living conditions, stigma, discrimination or exclusion, or lack of access to quality support and services

“It’s not just a few people who are struggling with it, it’s a big problem, that can be, helped, it can be, bettered, it won’t always be like that,” said students. “Right, right, it can get better, if you get the right help, yeah, exactly.”

Protective and supportive environments in the family, at school and in the wider community are important. Along with healthy sleep patterns, regular exercise, developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills and learning to manage emotions.

“If you think, like you have like mental health and it like can’t be fixed, it’s like you can like you like, you can talk to people about it, and like they can help you and stuff,” said students. “It’s not like, you’re not alone and stuff with it.”