May is Mental Health Awareness Month and during this month, non-profit organizations such as Silence the Shame, Inc. are spotlighting the importance of addressing mental and emotional wellbeing. Shanti Das, CEO and founder of Silence the Shame, teamed up with the Atlanta Hawks to focus on those segments of the population whose voice often goes unheard – namely children and teens.
Both Silence the Shame, Inc., and the Atlanta Hawks organizations spearheaded a day-long mental wellness event to engage youth dealing with mental health issues and answer the call to help. The Youth Mental Wellness COPE (Community Outreach and Practice Effort) Clinic offered a series of wellness activities to support outreach efforts directed at young people.
On Saturday, May 7, more than one hundred youth came together to participate in mental wellness exercises that taught youth how to normalize conversations and erase the stigma around mental health challenges.
The day consisted of a fireside chat with Platinum recording artist Mooski, who shared stories about past traumas and depression, his Marine Corps experience and how faith and music have helped him with maintaining his mental health. Also present to share their expertise was local clinician Kiana from T to Enterprises along with Marcia from Raw Yoga, who emphasized the importance of relaxation and stress relieving exercises.
The fun and festivities continued with the Hawks cheerleaders and Harry the Hawk providing entertainment for the crowd and culminated with breakout sessions on financial wellness
Why was it so important to host a mental health event for youth in partnership with the Atlanta Hawks?
It was important for us to partner with the Atlanta Hawks because the Atlanta Hawks are already in the community doing so many wonderful things. A lot of our young kids go to the Hawks games, and so we thought they would be the perfect partner. And they allowed us to be able to put together this awesome day of programming.
How do you address tragic situations such as the suicide note posted on social media from a college student who ultimately took her life?
Yes, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the freshman cheerleader from Southern University who died by suicide earlier this week. That was really heartbreaking and tragic for so many. We do realize the fact that we need to do more events like this, for young folks so they can open up and share. Oftentimes, there are so many pressures on teens, and then you add on social media and expectations of family, [and it can be] too great.
It’s a lot and then … we’re still coming out of a pandemic. What we are trying to do along with the Hawks is create platforms for these teens to feel like there are safe spaces in the community for them to share and to get help and resources.
For more information on mental health recourses contact silencetheshame.com