We have chosen to spotlight a national program unique in its approach to working with youth experiencing mental illness. Hope for the Day is a non-profit organization based in Chicago that focuses on teen suicide prevention. It also provides mental health education through self-expression platforms to achieve outreach, education, and prevention.
In order to reach youth, Hope for the Day partners with local artists to spread their message.
“Our programming is more impacting,” says Carl Evans, Director of Programs, “because those involved had been impacted by suicide, bullying and related issues. We wanted to provide resources for youth with the need to express themselves to communicate internal issues. In this case, it’s music.”
The result, they hope, is that those who attend will walk away with a new perspective on mental health. “For people at the venue, it’s an opportunity to start a conversation. They then take that feeling home, the feeling that they can talk about mental health. That’s where real grassroots work is.”
“Our goal is to create a model turnaround, with the goals of raising visibility, make an impact on social policy and institutional policy.”
NRS was also able to connect with Christina Phanthao, Director of Events for Hope for the Day (HFTD). Here are some of the thoughts she shared about Hope for the Day:
How is your experience with HFTD going?
“It’s been a little over a year and a half since I’ve started with HFTD. The first time I heard of HFTD was at The Maine’s American Candy Tour in Chicago. At the concert, Jonny (Boucher, CEO of Hope for the Day) spoke on stage and during his speech, the message that he was giving really resonated with me. It was very important to me to find a local organization to be involved with.”
Why do you feel the mission of HFTD is important?
“HFTD’s mission is so important because suicide is a second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24 years. Our mission brings awareness to the topic of mental health and encourages others to be the one to start the conversation.
“Everyone has a story and being able to express themselves through platforms such as music, arts, etc., has a way of becoming a safe harbor.”
We focus on peer to peer proactive prevention. Every day, we focus on outreach whether it’s through our social media outlets, or having Jonny Boucher (founder and CEO) speak at schools or on stage. We want everyone to know that it’s okay not to be okay. It is important to get out in the community and connect with as many people as we can. By utilizing venues, such as concerts and art shows, we directly connect with those that we aim to reach out to.”
What is the connection between artistic expression and suicide prevention?
“Artistic expression and suicide prevention connect by creating an outlet, a canvas that has been untouched, completely unjudged and is so personal to the person who created it. That one piece of work can convey a different message for everyone who sees or listens to it. Everyone has a story and being able to express themselves through platforms such as music, arts, etc., has a way of becoming a safe harbor.”
Can I help with HFTD?
“For those who want to get involved, we have a volunteer application on our website, hftd.org.”
Other like organizations interested in being featured on our blog, please contact Johnny Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org.