Mental Health Association of Central Florida Launches “You are a Lifeguard” Teen Suicide Prevention Initiative

JUNE 28, ORLANDO – The Mental Health Association of Central Florida (MHACF) will launch “You are a Lifeguard,” an initiative aimed at preventing teen and adult suicide. You Are A Lifeguard, which will be unveiled on Thursday, July 1st, calls on individuals in the Central Florida community and beyond to “Take the Pledge” to take an active role in suicide prevention, particularly among the increasing number of adolescents ages 15 to 24, by being there for those in need.  Community members that Take the Pledge to become a lifeguard are vowing to join the coalition that helps to identify, marginalize, and prevent suicides. MHACF’s goal is to ensure those in need have someone to turn to, whether it be to a friend, a family member, guardian, community member, school personnel, coach, or a mental health professional.


“You are a Lifeguard” is the latest in MHACF’s ongoing efforts to build mental health awareness and provide much needed services and support to Central Florida’s community. It joins programs such as the Outlook Clinic, which provides mental health services for the uninsured, Mental Health Connections, a free mental health information and referral resource, and more.


“The You Are A Lifeguard initiative focuses on bringing the community together to take an active role to recognize the signs and ultimately help prevent teen and adult suicides,” commented Marni Stahlman, President & CEO of MHACF. “There is a severe lack of resources for the struggling teens within our community. Our program hopes to fix that, not only by providing resources, but also by changing the culture to one that is more active in suicide prevention. Studies have shown that 1 in 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year. Our mission is to encourage everyone in our community to either help those in need by becoming a Lifeguard rather than a bystander when they see someone struggling with mental illness or encourages an individual to become their own lifeguard by seeking help.”


You are a Lifeguard was developed in response to the rising need for mental health services in our community. As the number of people struggling with mental illness has increased in recent years, the number of resources available has not risen to meet that demand. 


“It’s shocking to review studies that report that half of 11–17-year-olds reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm. As a matter of fact, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed that emergency room visits spiked for teenage girls, average age of 12 to 17, following suspected suicide attempts in the first months of 2021, compared against 2019 statistic.  Some other recent research also suggests higher rates of mental health problems among our youth, including self-harm, suicide thoughts and attempts, which leads some mental health professionals to ponder about the direct correlation to stressors from the pandemic.  A lot of question still remains on the current and future mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our youth, especially given social distancing and isolation, barriers to mental health treatment, and family health and economic hardships.” stated Stahlman. “The pandemic has exacerbated these issues as 1 in 5 people with Covid-19 are also diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, like anxiety or depression within three months. It is essential that we provide not only the resources our youth so desperately need, but also a culture that supports them as they navigate their transition into adulthood.”


MHACF is pleased to have partnered with the Central Florida Foundation and HIFIVE advertising agency to make this initiative possible and hope you will Take the Pledge today to help prevent teen suicide at www.YouAreALifeguard.org.

 

The Mental Health Association of Central Florida

Established in 1946, the Mental Health Association of Central Florida, Inc. (MHACF) is one of the oldest nonprofits in Central Florida and is the leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all.  The Mental Health Association of Central Florida understands that violence, racism, hate, and discrimination undermine mental wellness and are significant contributors to individual and community trauma. Therefore, we are committed to breaking cycles of multi-generational distress for marginalized communities in all that we do by pledging to work against racism, bias, prejudice and discrimination at individual, interpersonal and institutional levels.

For more information about MHACF resources, please contact us at (407) 898-0110 or visit www.MHACF.org.

 

The Central Florida Foundation
Central Florida Foundation believes in the power of philanthropy and that thoughtful strategies, combined with a generous community, make Central Florida a place where everyone feels at home. The Foundation works with families focused on giving back, nonprofits and across public and private sectors to bring philanthropy to life. It all began in 1994 as a dream around a table of local, passionate people, and has grown to be one of the community’s most trusted resources. Learn more at www.cffound.org.

 

HIFIVE Advertising Agency

HIFIVE is a fully comprehensive advertising agency based in Orlando. Our team is rethinking the connections that people have with businesses and organizations. We believe in connecting brands with audiences through messaging, relevancy, and culture. By providing creative, content, and digital service offerings – we can help your brand reach and connect target audiences while driving new business.

 

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According to a just released study by Mental Health America 54% of 11–17-year-olds reported frequent suicidal thoughts or self-harm in the previous two weeks, the highest rate since screening began in 2014. As the oldest community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all the Mental Health Association of Central Florida (MHACF.org) is intensifying its recently launched You Are A Lifeguard suicide awareness campaign as a key part of its participation in National Suicide Prevention Month beginning September 1st.