SRSLY Coalition and Students from Chelsea High School Partner to Address Youth Mental Health



The SRSLY Coalition, a Community Health Improvement program of Chelsea Hospital, is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month in May by engaging youth and helping amplify their voice. In collaboration with the Chelsea High School (CHS) Peer-to-Peer program, SRSLY is launching an anti-stigma campaign to spread awareness about important topics that matter to youth. Using the hashtag #takeitsrsly, the Coalition asked students what they think people need to know about substance abuse and mental health.

Almost 200 students in 14 classes responded. After the answers were evaluated by SRSLY Coalition Director Kate Yocum, five main themes emerged.

  • Substance abuse can have long-term negative effects on health and life goals
  • Mental health and substance use are related and connected to each other
  • Teens use substances as an escape from stress
  • These issues affect more people than you think
  • Help is available and effective

“To get that many responses is impactful,” said SRSLY Director Kate Yocum. “It’s something I hope people remember. These aren’t adults telling kids what they need to know. These are teens advocating for themselves and each other. There’s a quote that will stay with me: ‘we need to keep each other safe.’ I’m proud of that, I’m proud of them.”

“What I want my students and their parents to know is that they are not alone,” said CHS Teacher Laura Lutz. “There are people and programs out there to offer support and things can get better.”

These quotes from students are being shared with CHS and the broader community through a reactionary video, in which students and staff advocates read the anonymous responses. The video can be found here on SRSLY’s YouTube channel, as well as on their Facebook, Instagram and website.

As part of this campaign, CHS students also submitted anti-stigma projects with each student choosing a different artistic avenue for sharing their voice, such as a poem, an essay, and an art piece.

CHS senior Grace Morson shared an art piece titled Muted. “This piece is about how ADHD medication can mute my otherwise bubbly, colorful personality,” said Morson.

Another CHS student Alisa Woody shared her poem about addiction. “I wrote this poem based on one of my family members having a problem with addiction. I’ve written many poems to grieve with the whole situation. I was very close with my uncle and losing him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.”

When asked what excerpt of her poem meant the most to her, Woody said:

“Being strong for everyone else but myself.

No blame on a name.

It’s a powerful thing. What’s done is done. So young, yet still gone.

Thinking this isn’t real, it can’t be. But it is, you left me.”

The full poem and additional student-submitted essays and excerpts can be viewed on The SRSLY Coalition started incorporating strategies to improve youth mental health in 2021 following a strategic planning process. They recently adopted a new mission statement that conveys this broader focus. The mission of SRSLY is “Connecting as a community to support youth mental health and prevent youth substance use through action, education and advocacy.”


SRSLY Chelsea's mission is connecting as a community to support youth mental health and prevent youth substance use through action, education, and advocacy. SRSLY receives support the Coghlan Family Foundation, Chelsea Hospital, and the Five Healthy Towns Foundation. For more information, visit or follow SRSLY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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