Ypsi teens aim to raise peers' mental health awareness with new event

When members of the Ypsilanti District Library's (YDL) Teen Advisory Group (TAG) were brainstorming on what local teens need to know more about, they all agreed that mental health topped the list.


So they organized an upcoming mental health awareness event called Joy Factor: Mind Your Brain, to be held 6-9 p.m. Friday at YDL's Michigan Avenue branch, 229 W. Michigan Ave in Ypsilanti.


Jodi Krahnke, YDL youth services librarian, says several TAG members had direct experience with a friend or schoolmate committing suicide. TAG members pitched their idea for the event during the Neutral Zone's annual Youth Driven Spaces conference, and won an $850 grant to support the effort.


Because the library had already published its event listings for the season before the teens came up with the idea for Joy Factor, it was combined with the library's pre-existing STEAM Cafe program, Krahnke says. STEAM Cafes bring in a different scientist each month and allow time for the teens to learn about science concepts and ask questions about careers in various science fields.


The Joy Factor event will feature Isaiah Sypher of the University of Michigan's MIND Lab, discussing the neuroscience behind mental health. All other breakout sessions will be led by teens.


Participants will be able to pick two half-hour breakout sessions from a total of six choices, ranging from "Know Your Strengths for Personal Success" with Saline High School senior Lauryn Humphreys to "Depression and Bullying" with the Corner Health Center Theatre Troupe.


The event will include dinner and dessert from Zingerman's and Beezy's, and a prize drawing. A fun social time before the breakout sessions will include a chance for teens to color, play with a stress relief ball, or create a pin with a positive message.


All area youth ages 12-19 are invited to participate in the free event, and no registration is required. More information, including a full lineup of breakout sessions, is available here.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photo courtesy of YDL.

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