YHELP! (YOUTH HELP) provides a safe, supportive environment where teens are empowered with the access, tools, and knowledge to help themselves and each other. Several years ago, founder Jamese Jefferson had a conversation with a teenager who had challenges with seeking help for a close friend that had been engaging in self-injurious behavior.
Mrs. Jefferson, a mental health professional herself, who had been working with youth and families in the field of human services for most of her career, came away from that encounter with a deeper understanding that teens are often more focused on their own social circles than their relationships with adults, including their parents, and often do not share concerns with or seek help from adults readily. Inspired by the teenager’s courage and quest for knowledge, Mrs. Jefferson sought to create a platform that enabled teens to receive the accurate information and appropriate support they often need but may be unsure
of how to find.
And so YHELP! was born – a social media and web-based organization that is youth-driven but overseen by a team of trained, professional adults in the areas of mental health and life skills. Founded in March of 2019, YHELP! focuses on mental health and life skills development, and provides daily social media posts, interviews, podcasts, classes, workshops, and community events designed to provide teens with skills to help them successfully transition into adulthood, as well as many of the suicide prevention and crisis intervention tools and resources required to navigate the more challenging aspects of that transition. What makes YHELP! so unique is that every month there is a theme dedicated to mental health and life skills.
Within the YHELP! Internship program, each month a teen interviewer conducts an informational interview entitled, “YHELPtalk” with a mental health or life skills professional and/or organization to provide tips and advice to assist teens to prioritize their mental health and assist with transitioning to successfully to adulthood. Also, the teens develop mental health and life skills content with the assistance of trained therapists, counselors, and other professionals that consist of editing videos, managing websites, blog posts, therapeutic art, YouTube channel, and facilitate workshops along with community events to spread mental health awareness. Every year the work that the YHELP! interns create is used to develop a professional portfolio that they can use to apply to college or for future employment along with Letters of Recommendations. The goal is to empower teens to help themselves and support others.
Since its inception, YHELP! has garnered a significant social media presence and has established collaborations with like-minded companies and organizations such as Mental Health America, Born This Way Foundation, Channel Kindness, Hot Topic Foundation, and Teen Talk App.
YHELP! continues to partner with and stand for teens by developing and expanding a culture of growth, acceptance, and positive change through education and advocacy. YHELP! has become certified in Mental Health First Aid and is in the process of being an official site for Youth Mental Health First Aid. Future projects under development include YHELP! Arts (Therapeutic Art Program) for teens to use their Art to heal and express their selves constructively as a coping skill. YHELP! WILL (Life Skills) program focuses on transition services for teens such as financial literacy, college prep, driver education, employment skills, self-advocacy, and the YHELP! Helps (Volunteer and Community) service program dedicated to giving back to the community by donating and participating in community needs projects. Our mission at YHELP! is to educate teens, empower them, and let them know that they are not alone.