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"When you feel like giving up, just remember the reason why you held on for so long.” -Hayley Williams
A Message from Founder/Executive Director, Cynthia Brian
Everyone feels down and depressed from time to time. Yet sometimes, depression is a deeper mental health concern that needs to be addressed. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and many resources are available. Social media has become an outlet for teens to express their despair. Viewing consistent negative content causes feelings of isolation, anger, and overwhelming. The mission of Be the Star You Are!® is to empower through positive messages, especially in media, with tools for living. Make sure to tune in to our two radio broadcasts, StarStyle-Be the Star You Are!® and Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio.
Our BTSYA volunteers are contributing to this conversation and outreach.
Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio host, Ruhani, presented an impactful broadcast about teen suicide and prevention while interviewing Elliot Kallen, founder of A Brighter Day. Listen to the interview: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/145259/teen-suicide-and-prevention .
After interviewing Elliot, Julia Howe wrote her piece on breaking the silence, Hamza addressed how to break the stigma, and Karen encourages volunteering to help others to help yourself. Keep reading.
Ella, the teen chairperson of our shoe drive, expresses her gratitude for the kindness of others who donated shoes. She collected 21 bags of shoes totaling 536 pairs to be shipped to families in poverty in disaster areas around the globe.
June is Pride month, a time dedicated to celebrating the freedom to be themselves for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots. Be inclusive and kind. Love is love.
Father’s Day is this weekend and we honor all the magnificent men who love and care for their children. I will host a special radio broadcast focusing on fathers, pride month, and A.I on Wednesday, June 14th @ 4pm PT https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/145384/fathers-pride-month-ai-and-authorsand on Sunday, June 18th, Sharanya, Kirpa, and Milan provide a Father’s Day special on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio. Tune in for the positivity and fun. Happy, happy Daddy’s Day!
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are plenty of free resources. Early identification and intervention are crucial. Life is precious.
Be the Star You Are!®
PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556
Preventing Teen Suicide
by Ruhani Chhabra
1. Recognizing warning signs and risk factors: Identify those who may be at risk. Warning signs may include changes in behavior, withdrawal from activities, expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, or talking about death or suicide. 2. Mental health support: Access to mental health services is crucial for preventing teen suicide. Schools, communities, and healthcare systems should provide resources for mental health support, including counseling services and trained professionals who can help teenagers navigate their emotions and challenges. Reporting your friends’ situation can save their life. 3. Building resilience: Developing resilience in teenagers can help them cope with stress, setbacks, and challenges. Encouraging healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, mindfulness, and fostering supportive relationships, can contribute to building resilience. 4. Promoting social connections: Teens often feel isolated, so promoting positive social connections is essential. Encouraging participation in community activities, clubs, or support groups can help teens feel connected and valued. 5. Anti-bullying efforts: Bullying can have devastating effects on mental health and contribute to suicidal thoughts among teenagers. Implementing comprehensive anti-bullying programs in schools and educating students about empathy, kindness, and acceptance can help prevent bullying and its harmful consequences. 6. Responsible media portrayal: Media plays a significant role in shaping perceptions and influencing behavior. Responsible media portrayal of suicide, including avoiding sensationalism and providing resources for help, can reduce the risk of suicide and provide support to vulnerable individuals. 7. Educating parents, educators, and peers: It's crucial to educate parents, educators, and peers about the warning signs and risk factors associated with teen suicide. Training programs and workshops can equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to support and intervene when necessary. 8. Reducing stigma: It's important to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health issues. By promoting understanding and empathy, we can encourage teenagers to seek help without fear of judgment or shame. Education campaigns and initiatives can help normalize conversations about mental health. 9. Strengthening school support systems: Schools play a vital role in supporting teenagers. Implementing comprehensive mental health programs, training teachers and staff to recognize signs of distress, and establishing a supportive environment can make a significant difference in preventing teen suicide. 10. Encouraging help-seeking behavior: Adolescents may be hesitant to reach out for help due to various reasons, including fear of judgment or not knowing where to turn. Encouraging and educating them about available resources, such as helplines, counseling services, and support groups, can empower them to seek help when needed. 11. Limiting access to lethal means: Restricting access to lethal means, such as firearms or medications, can reduce the risk of impulsive suicide attempts. It's important for parents and caregivers to ensure that potentially dangerous items are safely stored and inaccessible to teenagers. 12. Developing coping skills: Teaching teenagers healthy coping mechanisms can equip them with the tools they need to navigate challenging situations. This can include strategies like problem-solving, stress management techniques, and promoting self-care practices. 13. Involving peer support networks: Peers can play a significant role in supporting one another. Creating peer support networks or mentoring programs where older teenagers can provide guidance and support to younger students can foster a sense of belonging and promote positive mental health. 14. Encouraging responsible online behavior: The digital world can both connect and isolate teenagers. Educating them about responsible online behavior, cyberbullying prevention, and promoting positive online interactions can mitigate the negative impact of online platforms on mental health. 15. Encouraging a balanced lifestyle: Balancing academic pressure with leisure activities, hobbies, and time for relaxation is crucial for overall well-being. When teenagers pursue their passions and engage in activities they enjoy, stress is reduced and mental wellness increased. Ruhani is a BTSYA volunteer and radio host on Express Yourself!™ Teen radio and an internationally award-winning writer. She will be a freshman at CAL, Berkeley in the fall. Listen to the Teen Suicide Radio Broadcast at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/145259/teen-suicide-and-prevention
Breaking the Stigma: Addressing Teen Mental Health for a Brighter Future
by Hamza Habib
Addressing teen mental health is crucial despite the surrounding social stigma. Nearly 50% of US adolescents, around 21 million, have experienced mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy and medication are available. A supportive network, including family and friends, can help alleviate stress and depression. Certain families may hold misconceptions, hindering access to necessary medical assistance. For instance, only 9.5% of Asian American teens received specialized mental health services, the lowest among racial groups. Outreach programs and social media can educate families about mental health, fostering a more open environment for adolescents to seek help. Let's not shy away from discussing mental health, but instead be compassionate and understanding, lending an ear to those in need. These small steps pave the way for a brighter future.
Hi! My name is Hamza, a Be the Star You Are!® volunteer. I am an incoming freshman at Wesleyan University, and am passionate about using my skillset to make the world a better place.
Breaking the Silence: A Brighter Day's Mission to Support Teen Mental Health
by Julia Howe
January 3, 2015. Elliot Kallen holds six pages of his son's final words—Jake Kallen's suicide note.
"Mom and Dad - I've been thinking about this for a long time. I never would have told you how I felt. I never would have asked for your help. I never would have taken your help."
On the plane back from Montana after retrieving his son's body, Elliot Kallen reread that note over and over and over again. He suddenly realized it needed to stop. He had to take action to prevent other families from experiencing the same pain and devastation. He needed to help other families find a brighter day.
Thousands of families face similar struggles like the Kallens. In 2023, 1 in 5 high schoolers have thought about suicide.
Being a teenager is tough! We deal with so much pressure to fit in, succeed in school, or just be happy. As a freshman in high school, many of my friends admit they have no idea how to handle their anxiety and depression. They don't feel comfortable talking to school counselors or teachers. And it can be really scary to seek help, call a helpline, or even talk to our parents!
That's where A Brighter Day comes in. This organization was founded by Elliot Kallen right after he lost his son. A Brighter Day is all about supporting the mental health of teens like us. Their Crisis Text Line provides help without making you worry that anyone will find out. Just text 'Brighter' to 741741, and within five minutes, trained counselors will be there to chat with you. This service is available 24/7, and it's completely free and anonymous. Plus, I don't have to make any calls—I can just text. Elliot Kallen agrees that if his son were alive today, he would have reached out to a texting line for support.
A Brighter Day does even more! Their website, https://www.abrighterday.info, shares original content every week for teens dealing with depression and anxiety. They provide stress and depression resources with relatable material for us and our parents. They also have an anonymous parent hotline once a month, allowing parents to talk to counselors or other families who've been through the same challenges.
Elliot Kallen, the founder of A Brighter Day, believes that they may not be able to eliminate depression entirely, but they can definitely make a big difference. His goal is for A Brighter Day to become a national organization that helps teens every day, all across the country.
Reflecting on their journey, Elliot considers the most significant achievement of A Brighter Day to be the positive impact they've had on countless teenagers. He keeps heartfelt thank-you notes from those they've helped. And guess what? A Brighter Day is just getting started, and they have so much potential to grow. Their current mission is to ensure that every single teen knows about the Crisis Text Line and can reach out for help when they need it.
Get involved with A Brighter Day and support teens across the US! We all understand how awful anxiety can be, so let's reach out and support other kids going through tough times. A Brighter Day needs your help; if we care for each other, we can save lives.
Volunteer at the Car Show at Broadway Plaza, Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek. No prior experience is needed, just good communication and teamwork skills! Anyone interested email the volunteer coordinator, Shaina, at email@example.com!
Julia Howe is a teen reader and writer with Be the Star You Are!®, passionate about youth mental health and literacy. She loves exploring innovative education methods and running long distances, and may soon be an Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio Reporter.
Kindness in Kindergarten
by Karen Kitchel
Spending a couple days each week as a volunteer in kindergarten is a wonderful way to absorb the important things in life. This week, I saw a very tearful little girl who was missing her Dad. It took about 30 seconds for another student to offer her teddy bear, which she said was given to her when she was a baby. Amazing how the tears stopped, and I saw a perfect picture of kindness.
For six years, I’ve had the privilege of watching five-year-old kids learn how to read, write, and most important, to be there for a friend in need. Each year, it’s bittersweet to see them all “graduate.”
Already I’m looking forward to the fall and meeting a new group of friends who will experience the wonders of what you can learn in kindergarten.
Karen Kitchel is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She purchased the book, No Barnyard Bullies, as a gift for every kindergarten student where she is a volunteer teacher. www.scatteringkindness.com
DONATE YOUR SHOES THROUGH END OF JUNE
Be the Star You Are!® in collaboration with Mark Hoogs State Farm Insurance and 5 A Rent a Space are collecting new or gently worn shoes to ship to women and families in developing countries. With the Russian war against Ukraine and the unprecedented natural disasters around the world, millions of people are currently experiencing difficult living conditions. Although books are always an enlightening resource, shoes are a basic necessity.
Through June 30th, drop shoes at these two locations:
State Farm Insurance
629 Moraga Road, Moraga
· 5 A Rent-A-Space
455 Moraga Rd. #F, Moraga
With your donation of shoes, you will be sharing your love. Thank you!
For more information, visit https://www.bethestaryouare.org/shoedrive
My Experience with the Shoe Drive
by Ella Kalpakjian
When I decided to be the teen chairperson for the shoe drive, I never thought that it would have such a positive impact on me. Seeing how many shoes were donated and how many people cared, especially the school administrations, was astounding. Organizing the shoe drive reminded me that people can do much more than they think when they work together. Donating one or two pairs of shoes might not seem like a lot, but when fifty or a hundred people do that, suddenly, there are a hundred pairs of shoes. It is also a good reminder that many people go through hardship, and these simple acts of kindness can make a big difference. I was overjoyed at the positive response I received from the Moraga community, and I hope that the shoe drive helps everyone remember to be grateful for what they have and spread that gratitude through kindness.
Dedicated BTSYA teen chairperson, Ella, organized shoe drives at local schools for BTSYA and collected 536 pairs of shoes to be distributed to women and families in impoverished countries.
SIMPLE WAYS TO HELP!
Spring is time to stock up on gifts for holidays forthcoming. We have suggestions for you to shop, save, and stay safe. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials.
1. Discounted books at Amazon:
2. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores :https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc
3. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA
4. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” black tanks and books at StarStyle® Store:
Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results
About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us
How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help
Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact
Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3
PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556
StarStyle® Empowerment is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.