ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell Rotary and Wellstar North Fulton are partnering to increase access to behavioral health resources and prevent suicide among youth.
“Roswell Teen Talk,” a five-episode limited series podcast, launched Oct. 11, featuring peer-to-peer content and stories with resources, tips and experiences intended to help listeners determine when and how to seek help for themselves, a friend or a loved one.
While the experiences shared come straight from a diverse group of Roswell High School and Fellowship Christian students, they are guided by Wellstar Health System experts to ensure the resources shared are accurate, relevant and actionable.
The first episode is titled, “Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to the Stress: Stressors, Coping Mechanisms and Mental Health.” In the episode, Roswell teens talk about how stress impacts them and share practical tips on how to cope with the effects. The Roswell teens participating in the podcast were chosen by fellow Rotarians and represent all grade levels.
They include band members, cheerleaders and football players, which Roswell Rotary Club past President Becky Stone said was important to let others know they’re not alone and it’s OK to seek help.
“You never know whose story could make a difference in someone else’s life,” Stone said.
Typically, Roswell Rotary divides the funds raised from its annual golf and tennis tournament among 30 charities. This year, Stone said they decided to focus on a Community Impact Project with the hopes of making a “big difference.” Roswell Rotary and Wellstar North Fulton then met with different parties, including a social worker from Roswell High School, to brainstorm ideas.
From there, they decided to invest $57,000 toward the launch of “Roswell Teen Talk” through a partnership with the Wellstar Foundation. Dr. Ryan Breshears, chief behavioral health officer at Wellstar Health System, will serve as a guide. He said the emergency rooms in local hospitals treat youth every single day for a wide range of behavioral health crises.
“It is so important to find ways to assist teens, their parents and loved ones through difficult times and direct them to resources before they end up in the emergency department,” Breshears said.
According to Wellstar, nearly 4 million people in Georgia are living with a behavioral health condition, and the last few years of the pandemic have only exacerbated the severity of the problem and the need for enhanced, accessible behavioral health resources.
This is especially true for youth, many of whom have or know a friend or loved one who has faced behavioral health issues. Wellstar states youth ages 11-17 are more likely than any other age group to exhibit moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.
With 1,451 deaths by suicide in Georgia in 2019, prior to the impact of the pandemic, and suicide as the second leading cause of death in the state for individuals 10 to 34, there is an urgent need to expand education, support and access to behavioral health care in local communities, according to Wellstar.
Roswell Rotary Club immediate Past President Terry Taylor said he hopes the podcast format will help reduce barriers and stigmas related to behavioral health.
“This critical information is available privately, and it’s accessible right in your phone or laptop,” Taylor said. “Teens, teachers, friends and parents can listen on their own to start getting the help they need even before they ask for it.”
All five episodes of “Roswell Teen Talk” are available now and are streaming for free on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or at roswellteentalk.podbean.com. In addition to listening to the podcast, if you or someone you know needs help, the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available. For help, call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.