FLUSHING, Queens — Queens Library has kicked off its first annual Teen Mental Health Week and will be hosting activities until Saturday that will help teens focus on self-care , provide them with resources on mental health and give them an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns.
"It was a feeling of despair and not loving one-self," said 26-year old Rafe Karen, who has been dealing with mental health issues since he was a child, after his parents separated.
“I struggled with mental illness, went to therapy for years and I have friends and family who struggle, I wanted to come up with a cool idea to help eliminate the stigma,” he told PIX11 Wednesday night at Queens Public Library in Flushing.
He created and directed the short film, Do Not Give Up.
"It’s OK to feel that way."
The short film was showcased at Queens Public Library in Flushing Wednesday night for Teen Mental Health Week - an initiative put together by Queens Library and Community Access.
"Teens are so affected by mental health and its growing so we wanted them to feel comfortable to discuss it and not feel ashamed," said Melissa Malanuk, Coordinator Teen Services Queens Library.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20 percent of teens ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition and suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24.
Karen's film was one of about 800 submissions from young filmmakers around the world on mental awareness to Community Access' Changing Minds - a youth mental health initiative.
"Through film, and storytelling, it’s our hope we can open up these mental health conversations and encourage young people to talk more freely with one another," said
John Curtis, Deputy Director of Development & Communications, Community Access.
On this world mental health day, the goal for many is to spark meaningful conversation and bring about change in society, including overcoming the stigma of mental illness.
For more information on events this week, go to www.queenslibrary.org.