SRSLY Coalition Launches Youth-Led Mental Health Campaign, to Raise Mental Health Awareness in Teens

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From SRSLY Chelsea

In recognition of Mental Health Month in May, the SRSLY Coalition is starting a conversation about youth mental health with the launch of the “Happy Initiative,” a student-led campaign at Chelsea High School (CHS). The logo’s acronym, which spells “HI,” invites people to think about connections and community involvement, and how those connections can support each other.

The Happy Initiative will provide custom t-shirts for sports teams and clubs at CHS designed by students. They will pick a shirt color for their team or club as well as a font style, color, text placement, and then select a phrase. The list of phrases was designed by the Student Leadership Team at CHS to reduce stigma and encourage conversation around mental health. Some of the options include: “you deserve kindness,” “your anxiety is lying to you,” and “someone out there feels better because you exist.”

“We know that when kids feel like they belong, it’s a protective factor for their mental health,” said Kate Yocum, director of SRSLY. “We hope these shirts are a foundation for building that, and something that resonates with every student that wears them and sees them. I can’t wait to see them in CHS hallways as a walking reminder that you matter, you’re loved, you belong.”

“Like our hoodies, this is a youth-only apparel campaign,” said Yocum. “It’s really important the teens know they own this. It’s theirs to lead.”

Students are responding enthusiastically to the new shirts and what they represent.

“The messages on the shirts help me feel more positive,” said Shelby Wheeler, a CHS freshman.

Students are also excited for how they hope the shirts will support their peers.

“The Happy Initiative shirts are a nice reminder for the people walking behind you,” said Lia Spink, a CHS junior. “I think it will make people smile when they read the different quotes.”

The Happy Initiative received financial support from Michael and Shannon Happy after they lost their son Shaun in 2021. This initiative is one of three mental health strategies the Happy family is sponsoring to remind Chelsea youth that they are not alone.

“Shaun mattered and you matter,” said Michael and Shannon Happy. “Please think of Shaun kindly when you wear this t-shirt and know that you're not alone if you're struggling.”

One of the phrases students can chose for their shirts is something Shaun frequently said to friends and family, “let’s put a smile on that face.”

The campaign launched with the boys’ and girls’ track teams, student council, and the SRSLY student leadership team. Of the 70 clubs and teams at CHS, new groups will be invited to participate each fall, winter, and spring season over the next two years. For more information and to see pictures of students in the new shirts, go to www.srsly.org or @srslychelsea_community on Instagram.

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About SRSLY
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 from the Coghlan Family Foundation, Chelsea Hospital, and the Five Healthy Towns Foundation. For more information, visit www.srsly.org or follow SRSLY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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