Outreach: Our changing world

Thoughtful woman in the train looking through the window

Outreach Teen & Family Services looks forward to the month of May each year because May is Mental Health Awareness month.

At Outreach, we practice and promote the importance of taking care of our mental health through individual and group counseling services and community programming. We understand that the earlier someone who is struggling mentally and/or emotionally can work with a caring professional therapist, the greater the success rate for healing, growth and achieving their goals. This is why we are excited to promote Mental Health America’s theme of “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World.”

Outreach has seen a 20 percent increase in sessions from 2022 to 2023, and this increase is continuing for 2024. Since the pandemic, the agency notes that there has been a positive shift to more teens and families discussing mental health; nonetheless, there is still a noticeable gap of knowledge about where to start when someone wants to improve their mental health and wellness.

Start by taking some alone time to learn how daily life affects your mental health. Think about what you like and don’t like in your daily life, reassess your morning and nighttime routines, assess your school- work/life balance, and determine if your social circles are supportive or filled with drama. While the world is ever changing, we can create healthy daily wellness practices, feeling more confident and equipped to navigate the dynamics of the rapidly shifting modern culture.

Next, act on the self-awareness you’ve learned, and build your own coping toolbox so you can manage stress, difficult emotions, and challenging situations. Adaptive coping skills are going to look different for each of us, but some to consider are movement, nutrition, sleep hygiene, maintaining healthy relationships, connecting with an animal, de-cluttering your space and volunteering. Be proactive, take time to read, or join a club with like-minded people. What are 5 to 7 coping tools that will help you maintain a healthy emotional life?

Advocate to improve mental health for yourself, your family, and your community. What does advocating for mental health look like? Share your coping toolbox with a trusted family member or friend, and start meaningful conversations around mental health. Check out Outreach’s youth-led podcast, Teens Tap In, attend a mental health event in May to show your support or become aware of local crisis information and resources in your area and inform others.

For anyone struggling with the pressure of today’s world, feeling alone, or wondering if they can feel better, this is where to start. Please reach out to Outreach if you think your child, teen, or family would benefit from starting to work with a counselor. We are a great community resource for the South Hills and Greater Pittsburgh area. We are unique because our counselors are trained to help with a wide variety of mental health problems and wellness areas, and we don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay. Outreach is the ideal place to start your journey to positive mental health.

Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families in a welcoming environment.
(412) 561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.