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TEENS HELPING TEENS: South Georgia's newest initiative to help those with mental health

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 17:32:27-05
  • Teens are trained in mental health first aid to readily spot those going through mental health challenges.
  • The program was spearheaded by high school junior Emily Johnson.
  • Check out the video above to hear from Johnson.


"People don't know how to handle stress or deal with mental health challenges," said Emily Johnson, Youth Advisory Council Chair. She's a junior at the Scholars Academy but more importantly, a mental health advocate.

She spearheaded a youth led council for local mental health services, the Vashti Center.

The first of its kind.

"I wanted to find a way, like, what are healthy coping methods and how can I help people and myself too," said Johnson.

They're called adolescent health advocates. That's just a fancy way of saying teens helping teens.

"There are so many standards thrown in your face. You have to fit this size and be this short or this tall," said Johnson.

The organization is calling it mental health first aid.

It's where they learn to spot the signs of someone going through a mental health challenge.

Signs like not attending school or abusing substances.

Then, getting those students help.

"Maybe it is more serious than your friend is letting on," said Johnson.

Director of outreach and training Alex English says that so far, the program is having a great start.

"We were really hopeful that we could get just a few people in here and we ended up with 11 teens," said English.

But English says they're not stopping there.

"We really want to spread this throughout Thomasville," said English.

Something Johnson says she agrees with.

"I want it to expand beyond the Scholars Academy and Thomasville High School. I would like it to go to the county, Brookwood, and other surrounding schools," said Johnson.

Johnson tells me as for the future she plans to major in psychology once she attends college.