Hello friends and fans of Please Live!
It has been a while since we have posted a general “update” blog, so this month’s post will be a reflection on all that we’ve done so far this year (and it’s only March!) as well as what is coming soon to Please Live.
Firstly, we have had a long but exciting week. With preparations for two events in three days, all of us at Please Live were on our toes as we got ready to bring our Love Life Ministries message to West Shore Christian Academy in Shiremanstown, PA and our regular Please Live presentation to Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA.
Around 8:00am on a windy Thursday morning, the 7th – 12th grade students of West Shore Christian Academy were ushered into a special Please Live chapel. Our presentation covered the basics that we usually cover – defining a mental illness, busting some myths about mental health stigma, signs of a mental health problem, how that can lead to suicide, and how to intervene in a friend’s life using the ACE – Ask, Care, Escort – model. But it also touched on the topic of religion and spirituality, honing in on the Christian scriptures to identify stories and characters that struggled, focusing on Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God to identify and fight mental and emotional struggles.
After the presentation, students were invited to hang out with one of 8 of our partnering agencies: Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Holy Spirit Teenline, The Meadows Psychiatric Institute, NAMI of Cumberland/Perry, Cumberland Valley Counseling Associates, True North Wellness, the Mental Wellness Awareness Association, and Minding Your Mind.
I had the opportunity to speak with several students after the event who expressed a genuine gratitude for bringing this important topic to their attention. One young woman spoke with me about her personal story and how she felt that her struggles were never taken seriously. After our presentation, she hopes that she will find more empathy from her fellow classmates.
A few other quotes:
“Alexa is awesome, and I am so glad she came in and spoke to us students and the teachers as well.” – Maddie, 17
“I never quite realized how society treated people with mental illness, how people put this topic aside. The speaker was really fun and made you want to listen.” – Caleb, 15
“I was given the hope that I’m not really alone, even when I feel like I am. I was super uncomfortable when it started because I knew that what was discussed described me, and I’ve always been ashamed of my feelings and thoughts. After this event, I am less ashamed.” – Maddie, 15
Fast-forward two days, and Please Live has taken over the Degenstein Theatre at Susquehanna University. We spoke with a group of about 150 students about mental health, followed by four optional workshops for students to attend: Social Anxiety and Conquering Your Fears presented by The Foundation for Hope; Alcohol and the College Student: What You Need To Know presented by the PA Liquor Control Board; Question, Persuade, Refer suicide prevention training presented by Please Live; and Someone To Tell It To: Compassionate Listening and Story Telling presented by Someone To Tell It To, Inc.
Again, I found myself speaking with several students afterwards. One student was concerned about a friend’s tendency towards depressive thoughts after nights of too much drinking. Another was concerned about a boyfriend and wanted advice on how to help him get to the counseling department in school. A third recently lost a close family member to suicide and simply wanted to thank us for our time to discuss such an important topic.
Now that these two events are over, we will have a couple weeks to rest, plan, and prepare for our two feature events for 2016: Mechanicsburg Area Senior High and Cumberland Valley High School. We will be hitting Mechanicsburg’s freshman class during their health cycle this upcoming April, and will likely be hitting Cumberland Valley in September.
Please keep your eyes on our upcoming events and our social media sites as we launch into the remaining 10 months of 2016 with our most impactful year yet!