Mental Health Association of Monmouth County's "Be YourSELF" Event for Teens a Resounding Success

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The expansive atrium of Bell Works was transformed into a sea of orange as over 500 teens, children, and families participated in the “Be YourSELF” creative arts and expression event last Friday evening. Designed to encourage teens to express themselves creatively and be not only comfortable but confident in their own skin, “Be YourSELF” was a resounding success. “We created a space for Monmouth County youth to Be Themselves, Express Themselves, and Celebrate Themselves…truly self-empowerment at its best!” reflected Ashley Lobbato, Vice President of Youth Services at the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County. “The energy in the room was uplifting and contagious. Everyone was so engaged in the activities at each of the SELF stations – having fun, laughing, and embracing their creativity!”

While the event was designed specifically for teens and their families, many younger children simply could not resist the colorful displays and enticing activities featured during the 3-hour event. Participants circulated among a myriad of creative and meditative activities, including hairstyling/blowouts by Lambs & Wolves in Red Bank, creation of calming jars, drawing lessons by the Doodle-Dude, t-shirt + cupcake decorating, a meditation station hosted by KYDS (Konscious Youth Development Services), a DJ, photo booth, and much more! Youth musicians also had a one-of-a-kind experience performing onstage in the Bell Works atrium, as School of Rock provided equipment used by individual students and youth bands, along with a performance by the St. Leo the Great chorus.

“Be YourSELF was a wonderful way to kick off Mental Health Awareness month in May, as so many youth and families continue to struggle,” said Wendy DePedro, President/CEO of MHAMC. “We are proud to continue to develop innovative and inspiring ways to reach our young people, encouraging them to celebrate their individuality and to seek help when needed.” The inspiration and enthusiasm permeating this event certainly seemed to drive this message home, as proven by the throngs of teens creating, having fun…and sporting their orange “Be YourSELF” gear!

Hosted by the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County (MHAMC) and joined by the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County & Society for Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS), this free event was made possible by a suicide prevention grant from the Monmouth County Department of Human Services. MHAMC has established itself as a leader in local communities and statewide in providing extensive suicide prevention programs, mental health services in schools, homeless outreach, case management and other intensive family support services.

MHAMC offers help to individuals and families in addressing all these issues knowing that, if someone struggles in any of these areas, their mental health and ability to achieve wellness becomes compromised.