Weekly Feature

2017-10-19 / Lifestyles

Phase 2 of local campaign urges struggling young adults to ‘Just Tell One’

by MARIA PERICOZZI
Intern


Ken Houseknecht tells the audience why JustTellOne.org is important and helps save lives, by giving young adults the resources they need to just tell one trusted individual about problems they are experiencing. 
Photo by Maria Pericozzi Ken Houseknecht tells the audience why JustTellOne.org is important and helps save lives, by giving young adults the resources they need to just tell one trusted individual about problems they are experiencing. Photo by Maria Pericozzi Getting help when suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse or substance abuse can be as simple as just telling one person.

Phase 2 of a local campaign centered around that idea, JustTell One.org, features a round-theclock live chat capability, a new “tools and inspiration” page, downloadable tool kits translated into seven languages and five new individuals to be the faces of the campaign.

“We’ve got a problem in our community, and we all know it,” said Ken Houseknecht, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Erie County. “We’re losing too many of our young people.”

JustTellOne.org is a peer-to-peer public awareness campaign focused on prevention and intervention for at-risk youth ages 14 to 26 struggling with the early stages of depression, suicide, alcohol abuse or drug abuse. “[The campaign] provides individuals with the tools they may need to start that all-important first conversation with a trusted person to get them the help they need,” said Carol Doggett, senior director of marketing communications and outreach at the Mental Health Association of Erie County and the Just Tell One campaign director.

The new 24/7 live chat was made possible by a partnership with the YWCA of Genesee County’s Care and Crisis Helpline. Individuals can now chat live, through the website, with skilled listeners, composed of trained staff members who can make referrals to appropriate resources throughout Western New York.

The downloadable tool kits are now translated into seven languages, including Spanish, Karen, Somali, Burmese, Arabic, Nepalese and Bengali, to serve a more diverse user base.

Five new individuals also shared their stories as part of the campaign, expanding the video content on the website. New billboards, digital ads and fresh social media content for multiple platforms have also been created.

Since the campaign was launched in November 2016, the website has surpassed more than 33,000 page views, with depression and suicide being the two most-visited sections.

Houseknecht said young people who have the courage, honesty and integrity to share their own stories is part of the magic of the campaign.

“You can find hope, you can find help and you can get healing,” Houseknecht said.

“You can recover the life that you’re meant to live, and you in turn can become a person who is a beacon of hope for other people.”

JustTellOne.org is led by the Mental Health Association of Erie County and the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, in association with Millennium Collaborative Care and Community Partners of WNY.

On average, it takes individuals up to 10 years to get treatment after the first symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse and drug abuse appear. During that time, the issue can escalate from a manageable condition to a life-altering crisis.

“Oftentimes, individuals, particularly youth, are struggling with mental health or substance use,” said Robin Mann, executive director of ECCPASA. “They don’t seek assistance, due to the shame, the fear or the stigma that’s attached.”

Loss is something that everyone experiences, Houseknecht said.

“We need to turn the tide in our community, and we need to be open, and we need to be honest,” he said. “We need all of us in each of our own lives to be bearers of hope and help and healing, and it can start by just telling one person.”

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