ATLANTA — Mental illness continues to be a nationwide concern for teenagers.
Channel 2′s Heather Catlin found a nonprofit in Atlanta that focuses on teenage girls and also helps them to help others.
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The program is called Girl Talk, and it’s for middle and high school girls. It’s about inspiring them to be confident through peer-to-peer mentoring.
Catlin spoke with one 18-year-old who went through the program. She told Catlin the support helped save her life.
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“I have had a very big mental health journey and when I was at the height of it, Girl Talk was the place for me that said that it’s OK, we’ll get through it together. The people I met at Girl Talk really did save my life. They really did teach me along the way that it’s OK to be struggling. It’s how you get through it that matters,” member Sia Patel said.
Patel joined Girl Talk when she was a sophomore and has been developing leadership skills through the program in order to help others the way, that Girl Talk has helped her.
The nonprofit focuses on peer-to-peer mentoring, where high school girls mentor middle school girls.
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“We lead knowing that 1 in 4 girls struggles with a mental health issue. A lot of cases are a mental health crisis. Girl Talk addresses it head on. We realized high school girls have such a gift to influence their slightly younger peers. They can do that where they feel heard, seen, known and loved,” Haley Kilpatrick, founder of Girl Talk, said.
Kilpatrick told Catlin that the peer-to-peer model has been a game changer. The mentor helps the mentees with everything from body image to relationships to diversity and inclusion.
“I should tell you a girl’s self-esteem peaks at age 9. At Girl Talk, we are committed to combating that,” Kilpatrick said.
Girl Talk started in Georgia 20 years ago, but is now nationwide. More than 70,000 girls have been involved, and it’s been making a big difference ever since.
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