Mentoring and Mental Health Awareness -

Becoming a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, and making a difference in a child’s life, can be one of the most important jobs any adult can take on. Especially if that child is a victim of childhood trauma, anxiety, or depression. Every child has a story to share, but in this fast-paced world, not every adult has the time to listen. Mentoring means taking the next step in ensuring a better future for us all.

One Child’s Story

Imagine being Carlos, a young boy who feels like he has no voice in this world. He keeps his emotions inside until they burst out in anger and rebellion. He distrusts any adult who tries to control him. He faces trouble at home and at school, and that makes him feel even more isolated and misunderstood. He shuts himself in his room, feeling hopeless and furious. His grandmother watches him with a broken heart. She sees the potential in him and doesn’t know how to save it from fading away.

Carlos is not the only one who feels this way. Our children are facing a mental health crisis like never before. They are struggling with social isolation, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at alarming rates. These problems are caused by many factors, such as childhood trauma, too much screen time, and not enough social connection, as well as growing gaps in education and access to resources and opportunities that have been worsened by the pandemic.

We cannot ignore this situation any longer. It is not enough to raise awareness about this issue once a year during May’s Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month. We need to take action now to connect with our young people and make sure that they have the support and opportunities that they need to thrive.

What Can You Do?

One simple way we can help is by becoming a mentor to a child. Mentoring can be a powerful way to help children who have experienced trauma. A mentor can provide a young person with a positive role model, a trusted friend, and a coping skill. You can help them explore new activities in a safe environment, where they can learn and grow. Something as simple as a hike in the National Forest or baking your favorite recipe can be empowering and life-changing.

Mentoring is not just a nice thing to do, it is essential for our well-being. Think of the mentors in your life who have given you wisdom, guidance, and support. Yet research shows that one in three of our youth do not have access to a mentor outside of their immediate family. Programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters exist to bridge this gap. But we urgently need more mentors. It only takes an hour a week on average, four hours a month and you can spend much of that time doing things you already planned to do, like taking the dogs to the dog park or trying the new hot spot for lunch.

A Happy Ending

Carlos was lucky enough to have his grandmother enroll him in Big Brothers Big Sisters. He and his Big Brother Jeff now enjoy their time together. They love hiking, fishing, and playing frisbee golf. Most of all, they like to goof around and share a meal together. Since being matched, Carlos has improved in school. He’s connected with other resources including tutoring and an afterschool support group. His grades and attendance are up, and he has joined the football team. Most of all, his grandmother notes, he smiles a lot more.

To learn how you can make a difference in a child’s life, and your own, visit the website.

Article written by David Sherman, CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region.

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