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OLA Short Addresses Adolescents' Mental Health Challenges

Nicole Barylski

Voices of Youth: Mental Health Access was edited and directed by Allura Leggard. (Photo: Courtesy of OLA)

OLA of Eastern Long Island has once again commissioned a short film from Sag Harbor resident and college student, Allura Leggard. Last year, the Ithaca College student directed and edited a series of short videos centered around the mental health of youth - with the goal of breaking stigma and sparking discussion. Her latest OLA video, Voices of Youth: Mental Health Access, will explore the topic of mental health access for adolescents by utilizing statements collected from the youth.

"All quotes are directly from the recent survey we created for 12-29 year olds asking about their middle and high school mental health challenges," explained Minerva Perez, OLA Executive Director. "We were so moved by the honestly and urgency, we wanted to share this in the most compelling way possible."

The short features local actors who filmed segments straight from their own homes. "This work is powerful and I'm so proud to be able to be part of this," said local community member and actor, Jessenia Morales. "Thank you OLA for creating this initiative and I'm very happy I was able to participate," added Valeria Lemus, local community member and actor. 

Through the survey, participants shared struggles with anxiety, fear, and panic attacks. One shared a challenging situation at home: "My family had the belief that family problems were not to be talked about with anyone. It was difficult to get to a place where talking about the suffering caused the emotional abuse of my parents' marriage did not feel like a betrayal to them."

Leggard directed and edited the recordings together. The film is seven minutes long and is available on OLA's YouTube Channel: YouTube.com.

"OLA is engaged in several initiatives related to emotional health access including serving as East End Provider of Project Help, NY State emotional support offering. OLA will be introducing a 'Just Text' campaign to encourage youth to reach out for support if they feel they have no other alternatives. Our team is trained to support," added Perez.

OLA's Project Hope Crisis Counseling provides free, confidential, and anonymous counseling at (631)500-0837.

For more information, visit www.olaofeasternlongisland.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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