Our lives instantly shifted when COVID spread across the country last year, and this is especially true for teenagers. No longer were they amongst their peers throughout the day, but rather relying on phones and computers to communicate with their friends at all times. As social interaction has decreased for teenagers, their mental health challenges have increased. That's why resources like the new podcast MindReach can be so helpful.
MindReach, a podcast for teens about mental health, was created during the Leadership Chattanooga program within the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. As Leadership Chattanooga draws to a close, the podcast will be shifted over to Cempa Community Care. To understand more of how the project came about and what the vision for it is, we spoke to some of MindReach's creators.
Trend: Tell me about how your group came up with the idea for a mental health podcast.
Kenneth Burke, VP of Marketing, Text Request: You nailed it. We started planning this in late September, early October last year. Youth mental health has been a growing issue for years anyway, and we were concerned that students spending more time alone throughout the pandemic would make things worse. Our group wanted to help, but we aren't licensed mental health professionals, so what could we do? Well, we could have conversations with licensed mental health pros about tough topics, record those conversations and share them with the public. So we created a podcast to help our community's youth with their mental health.
Trend: I read that your group started the podcast to address stressors surrounding the pandemic, and to provide a resource for teens. How do you think your topics will evolve as you continue? What are topics you're planning to tackle in the near future?
Shannon Stephenson, CEO, Cempa Community Care: We tried to incorporate key issues that our youth were facing today in our initial launch, but some of our focus in the future could involve how to re-integrate into social activities post-COVID, what has a Zoom environment done to our insecurities and other topics as teens share their struggles.
Trend: How do you plan to promote and connect teens to your podcast?
Jennifer Pukenas, Assistant to the Mayor, Hamilton County: We are fortunate in that local organizations and Hamilton County Schools have been excited about our project, and have offered to assist in marketing our podcast through newsletters as well as their respective social media platforms. Several news outlets have agreed to feature our story in their publications, and we will continue reaching out to other partners to include all channels of communication. It is so encouraging to live in a community where people are willing to lend a hand in getting the word out on something as impactful as this resource.
Trend: Do you feel teens in Chattanooga have many mental health resources accessible to them?
Callie Lance, Chattanooga Sports Chiropractic Institute: Yes, just with the amount of resources, it is easy to get overwhelmed and get lost in the information. It can be tough to know where to start. Our goal was to help highlight some of the resources to use as a starting point. Sometimes you have to try out multiple avenues before you find the right match for the help you need. Be patient and do not get discouraged because one way isn't the right way for you.