Fayetteville-Manlius senior Olivia Barnhart is using a Girl Scouts project to benefit her school community. Olivia is working toward the Gold Award, and has to complete an 80-hour, volunteer-based, sustainable project that addresses a problem in her community. She chose to focus on compiling a list of county-wide mental health supports, specifically for high schoolers and their families.
“You’re only at school Monday-Friday, and a lot of the times, when kids are struggling it’s at night or on the weekend and that’s when they don’t have someone to turn to,” explained Olivia, when talking about her inspiration behind putting this list of resources together.
To get started, Olivia researched all mental health resources offered both in school and beyond school, across Onondaga county. She then compiled what she found into a brochure broken down into three categories: how to help a friend or classmate, how to help your child, and how to help yourself. Also on the brochures is a QR code that anyone can scan to access a full, comprehensive list of resources, referral services, and support groups.
“I remember when I went to research the resources, I felt overwhelmed, so I couldn’t imagine how someone in crisis would feel if they went to look for resources and they weren’t organized in this way,” said Olivia.
F-M Mental Health Educator Will DeSantis has helped Olivia along the way. The two first connected one year ago to discuss the need for greater mental health resources.
“We acknowledge that mental health support in our school has grown and expanded, but it is so important that people are also aware of community connections,” added DeSantis. “It’s something maybe not everybody needs right now, but should be aware of how to access services within the community beyond the scope of school.”
Olivia and DeSantis presented this compiled information during freshman parent night at the high school on September 13th. The two plan to table more events in the future, and Olivia hopes to provide each school building with brochures so anyone who needs one can take one. You can find her complete list of Onondaga County’s mental health resources here.