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Blount County youth group works to include teens in mental health awareness

Five teens from Topside Church of God spearheaded a day of storytelling, faith and healing.

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — The youth group at Topside Church of God in Blount County started planning a mental health awareness day months ago. On Saturday, that vision came to life.

"It's so much easier to deal with things if you know other people you can talk to," youth member Henry Myers said. 

Myers said he and his friends came to the conclusion that mental health is something that touches just about everyone and that led them to creating a day long event filled with storytelling, faith and healing.

"People are losing their kids because of it, adults too, moms are losing their kids even if they are an adult it doesn't matter," he said. 

Youth pastor, Shawn Hatfield said it is a vision he was more than happy to support and help bring to life. 

"The kids \would come in and say please pray for my friends who are doing this or please pray for my friend who was doing that and the pastor and I sat down and said we got do something," he said. 

That conversation led to a plan to create a space where people could get the help they need with people from all over the county there to witness it.

"We decided to have a community event where everyone would be put in touch with community resources," Hatfield said. 

But Myers believes the church also transformed into a place for people to share their stories.

"I lost a cousin two years back because of it and it was horrible, the whole family was upset about it," he said. 

 These are the kinds of experiences youth group vice president, Eden Wright, said she wants to help people through.

"In my opinion we're a light in the darkness, we're just trying to give hope," Wright.

She believes and words of encouragement and love are a good place to start.

"You must make sure you keep hoping and keep dreaming and keep marching on," she said. 

It is statements like these Hatfield said gives him encouragement and by giving teens the tools they need to help each other he believes the future may not be so bad after all.

"They wanted a way to fight back and this is their fight song," he said. 

You can find suicide prevention resources here or call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.