CBS 2 recently showcased Youth Outreach Services (YOS) in Pilsen for their significant community work, particularly on Mental Health Action Day. Johnnie Duncan, now a counselor at YOS, reflects on his transformation: “There was one year where I lost friends, I lost relatives, and I basically woke up and was like, ‘I got to do better.'”
Having experienced similar challenges as the youth he serves, Duncan connects deeply with them: “I’ve been through what they are going through now, and we relate.”
Monica Montgomery from YOS highlights evolving mental health challenges among teens, exacerbated by the pandemic and social media: “We noticed that there was a lot of anxiety. There was a lot of depression. There was a lot of withdrawal.” Duncan emphasizes social media’s influence: “They deal with TikTok. They show you how to steal cars. They would never know anything about that if it wasn’t on social media.”
YOS extends beyond mental health support, aiding teens with job placements and aiming to exceed last year’s success of over 100 job placements.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there is help out there and it’s effective. Call or text 988 to reach the suicide and crisis lifeline and be connected to a counselor 24/7.