How One Teen (and Her Twitter) Are Raising Awareness About Mental Health
Just because you're young—and happen to lack a medical degree—shouldn't mean that you're unqualified to help others. Just take it from Kasey Lemley, the 19-year-old behind The Help Hotline, an important online movement that uses platforms like Twitter to increase awareness about mental health. Kasey created the account about four years ago as a means of recovery. “I wanted to make The Help Hotline because I felt that my past experiences and my progress could show people that recovery is possible, no matter who you are,” she explained. “A few years ago, it was really bad; I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, which took over my entire life.” But Kasey eventually got better—which inspired her to use her story to help others.
With The Help Hotline, the West Virginia teen says she "wanted to show everyone that no matter how hard it’s going or how hard your life gets, you can’t let the bad things control you. You should let them motivate you to be a better, stronger person.” Much like The Buddy Project (which was created by Kasey’s good friend and Clover fave Gabby Frost), The Help Hotline places the utmost importance on having a support system. This is where the whole social media thing comes into play. “I don’t know why I chose Twitter of all the social media platforms, but Twitter is the easiest way to interact with others,” Kasey said of the org’s account, which has 43.5K followers.
"Twitter is also the best way to promote positivity, increase suicide awareness, and hopefully eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Running The Help Hotline makes me feel like I’ve done something important,” Kasey said. “Even though I felt like my life was going to end with this, it’s building me up to help others. It’s a chain reaction, using your stories to help others, and then hopefully they can use their stories for good.” So regardless of whether or not you happen to be going through a rough patch yourself—they happen to everyone, with varying degrees of seriousness—THH is an important reminder to have empathy toward others.
Everyone’s story is different, after all, which means everyone’s treatment plan is different. “My advice for girls who are struggling with thoughts of suicide is don’t be afraid to speak up," Kasey said. "The longer you go, it might be even harder.” If you don’t feel like telling your mom, or your teacher, or your therapist right away, that’s OK. Even talking to someone anonymously, like The Help Hotline, can be the first step to recovery until you talk to an adult. As alone as you might feel, try and remember that you're never really alone. "There are always people out there who are going through a similar thing that you’re going through," Kasey said. And by taking it one step at a time, you can feel better.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, tell someone. Reach out to the Crisis Text Line,The Suicide Prevention Hotline, or an adult you trust ASAP.