Non-profit sets out to help youth struggling with mental illness

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:19 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 1:57 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - While suicide is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 6 and 17, a Charleston organization is launching a new program to focus on mental health in young people.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Charleston is an organization primarily run by volunteers serving the community through outreach programs and day-to-day support for family and friends of people suffering from mental illness.

NAMI Charleston Executive Director Robert Aitcheson says because of the high rate of suicide found in low ages, their organization is working to launch a new program called the Speak Loud Project.

Aitcheson says the pandemic has brought about more mental health conditions for young adults in the Lowcountry and he says suicide rates are rising.

The Speak Loud Project aims to provide an avenue for younger individuals to form a network outside of a treatment facility, and give them an opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer support. Aitcheson says this will hopefully help those suffering readjust back into their homes.

“Speaking to the youth and getting in schools and providing after school programs, that’s really important because they’re our future,” Aitcheson said. “And we want them to continue a dialogue, an open dialogue about mental health. Because it’s the same thing as physical health.”

Aitcheson says they want to work with local hospitals, call centers and more.

The program is set to launch in a couple months, but it is contingent on fundraising and involvement.

Those who would like to get involved can do so and find more resources on NAMI’s website.

Aitcheson said the plan is to host events for the Speak Loud Project at the St. Julian Divine Community Center located at 1 Cooper Street.

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