Chatham Non-Profit Introduces Peer Heroes Toolkit for Teens, Friends, Parents

Youth-to-youth messaging designed to prevent substance abuse and improve mental health...
One of the images for Behavioral Health Innovators' new social media "Peer Heroes" campaign (Courtesy of BHI)

South Chatham, MA. – Behavioral Health Innovators launches (BHI) new campaign Peer Heroes, targeting teens and parents, about the realistic impact of continued substance use and associated mental health issues among young people. 

Designed as a social media toolkit utilizing youth perspectives and scientific research on substance use and mental health, Peer Heroes is a free resource for schools, community coalitions, public health professionals, and other organizations dedicated to prevention.  This social media toolkit provides a brain science video linking the behaviors on the RAMP to addiction with the real life behaviors, told by youth in their own language, a collection of videos highlighting real life accounts from teen and young adult peers, and social media infographics, quotes and other artistic works.  These can be used in student classes, on websites, social media platforms, newsletters, presentations and for press related activities. 

The source of the message matters, which is why Behavioral Health Innovators uses youth as the voice of the campaign. Emily is a 16 year old in recovery who serves as a Peer Hero for the toolkit and shares how, “everyone needs help at some point in their life.” The toolkit combines this youth perspective with the science of substance use and its impact on the brain in an effort to more effectively reach high school and college aged youth.

According to Mary Beth Schoening, Co-founder of Behavioral Health Innovators, “There’s not much attention focused on the upstream behaviors on the RAMP to addiction and if we can help young people recognize those, then we can hopefully prevent many from becoming addicted in the first place.  These ‘rising risk’ behaviors are red flags, and when combined with the spikes in anxiety and depression we are seeing, that paints a scary trajectory for many young people.”

Dr. Candida Fink, MD agrees.   “Teens learn from stumbles, but I’m seeing that they are less able to recover from failure which makes them more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Many are turning to unhealthy ways of coping, such as drinking or using drugs, which hardwires pathways in young brains during a peak development period.”

 “This toolkit gives a youth-to-youth messages that they are more likely to hear, and inspires them to seek help for themselves or loved one if they need it.”

For organizations interested in utilizing Peer Heroes Social Media Toolkit at no cost in their prevention efforts visit www.bhinnov.org/toolkit.

About Behavioral Health Innovators

Behavioral Health Innovators, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit bringing broad scale, innovative solutions to market in order to help young people with anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder achieve healthy lives.  We co-design solutions working with youth and the recovery community directly. Our specialties are in the area of solution development, advanced research, prevention education and consulting services.

About Candida Fink, MD

Dr. Candida Fink, MD is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist.  For more information visit her website for more at https://finkshrink.com/about-candida-fink-md/.


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