June 23, 2022
The NAN Project Celebrates Pride Month 2022

          June is celebrated as LGBTQ Pride month across the world. In recognition of LGBTQ Pride month The Nan Project would like to highlight five mental health resources that LGBTQ youth can access year round. Throughout the article, we will be mentioning “drop-in centers,” which are places for people to hang out, connect with others in a variety of groups, and access resources such as healthcare supplies and food.

Drop-in Centers

          One center LGBTQ youth can go to is BAGLY in Boston, MA. BAGLY (The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth) is a drop-in center that is a part of the AGLY Network, which has locations across Massachusetts that offer resources and programs for LGBTQ youth. BAGLY specifically offers group therapy, a narrative art therapy group where youth create art based on therapeutic prompts, and free 101 therapy sessions affectionately called “Tea Time.” Therapy services are free and open to LGBTQ youth under the age of 25. You also do not need to have proof of identification or health insurance to receive these services. BAGLY also offers a variety of non-therapeutic social groups and programming as well as HIV/STI testing for LGBTQ youth under the age of 22. 

          Another drop-in center LGBTQ youth can go to is Boston GLASS (Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services). Boston GLASS caters to LGBTQ people of color ages 13-29 and offers HIV/STI testing, PrEP access, as well as sexual wellness counselling. Additionally there is virtual or in-person therapy, in-home family therapy, and therapeutic monitoring offered. Similar to BAGLY, youth do not need insurance to receive services as all GLASS services are free. Youth can also attend a variety of social groups and events hosted by GLASS that cater to different interests and needs of the LGBTQ youth community. 

Other Community Resources

          One resource that serves both youth and their loved ones or caretakers is Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), where folks receive support and education around their/their child’s sexuality or gender identity. These support groups are run by parents of LGBTQ youth or adults and take place across Massachusetts. They also have a helpline people can call for resources and to have their questions answered if they cannot attend an in-person support group.

The Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center

          A favorite for healthcare across the local LGBTQ community, The Sidney Borum Jr Center in Boston provides mental health counseling, support groups for transgender youth and adults, substance abuse treatment, STD testing and treatment, and medical care. The Sidney Borum Jr Center takes most insurances.

          Finally, a virtual resource LGBTQ youth can access across the country is The Trevor Project, which has a helpline folks can call for support, as well as a text line and an online chat room they can use if they aren’t able to make a phone call. The chat room has a private feature that enables the user to close the tab with three taps of the “esc” button if they cannot show their family their computer screen for safety reasons. The Trevor Project also has online chat rooms that LGBTQ youth can use to connect with each other.

         These are not the only services available to LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts. There are a lot of organizations able and ready to serve the extensive and varying needs of LGBTQ youth, and we encourage you to reach out for either yourself or someone you know if you need it. 

Links to These Resources

BAGLY

https://www.bagly.org/  

(617) 227-4313

 

Boston GLASS

https://jri.org/services/health-and-housing/health/boston-glass

(857) 399-1920

 

Greater Boston PFLAG 

https://gbpflag.org/

(781) 891-5966

 

Sidney Borum Jr Health Center

https://fenwayhealth.org/info/locations/the-borum/ 

(617) 457-8140  

 

The Trevor Project

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

(866) 488-7386 

Peer Coordinator Spotlight – Erica

Meet Our New Peer Coordinator, Erica!

Please join us in welcoming our newest Peer Coordinator, Erica, who came to The NAN Project four months ago. They have stepped right in to connect with students in the classroom and have begun shaping a new project with local colleges!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up outside of Washington DC, went to school in Cleveland, and then moved to the Boston area. I’ve been here ever since and love it! I’ve been playing ultimate Frisbee for a while, it’s a big passion of mine. I also like learning new recipes, looking after my many houseplants, and playing with my cat, Julep.

Does the Peer Coordinator position at The NAN Project fit into your personal goals?

I always knew I wanted to work face-to-face with people in a helping role. What better way to do that than to share my mental health journey with others to make them feel less alone, and perhaps get people to seek help earlier? It gives me hope to hear the way students speak about mental health in the classroom. I think that self-awareness, especially when practiced at a younger age, gives people a greater chance of leading healthy and balanced lives.

What strategies do you employ in managing your own mental health?

Erica’s Cat Julep

I love this question because I think it probably changes from year to year as I get to know myself better. Currently what works for me is going to bed on time, leaving time and space for me to feel my feelings, exercising regularly, and talking to my therapist.

What has been notable in your presentations to students in the classroom?

The first thing I notice is that students are much more aware of mental health in general than when I was at their age. There are a lot of student questions wondering what will happen once they ask for help, and worries that reaching out might not help them. We encourage people not to give up, to keep reaching out and fighting for themselves. Everyone is worthy of help, and no one is beyond help. I tell students, “While you might not get exactly what you need right away, help is out there for you.” I think the Comeback Stories we share in schools reflect that learning what you need and how to get it is a process, and does improve over time. Another common theme among student questions is how to help a friend who might be struggling, which is something we do cover in our messaging. It’s encouraging that so many people want to be supportive friends!

How do you like to spend your free time?

I play for a few ultimate Frisbee teams in the Boston area throughout the year. When I’m on the field, I am fully engaged and focused on what I’m doing. It gets me running around outside (in the warmer months), and I get to see old friends and meet new people. I also have an ever-growing houseplant collection–I love watching my plants change throughout the seasons, and learn what they need by paying attention to them.

What do you hope for your future?

I want to learn more about the professional career options in the mental health field, as this is my first time working in the mental health space. Whether I pursue another degree or not, I want to be a support to the communities of which I am a part.

June 17, 2022
Peer Mentor Appreciation Day at Salem Willows Park

Today, we held a Peer Mentor appreciation day at Salem Willows Park to celebrate all the hard work this academic year. We played games, had great food, and reminisced on this year’s highlights. We’re so thankful for our amazing Peer Mentors, we could not do this work without you!

June 16, 2022
Day 1 of Younity Training

Today was our first day of Peer Mentor training at the Younity drop-in center in Gloucester. It was great to get to know our new group of trainees!

June 14, 2022
Stephanie Moulton Symposium and QPR Trainings

Yesterday, our Peer Outreach Coordinator, Ray, joined the 10th Annual Stephanie Moulton Symposium. Our team presented QPR suicide prevention training to leadership and advocacy students at West Boylston Middle/High School yesterday as well, and we presented QPR to Eliot staff in Lexington today!

June 11, 2022
Tabling in Beverly and Marion

Today, our team split up for two different mental health tabling events, one in Beverly for the North Shore Youth Leaders Teen Mental Health Day, and the other for Old Rochester Regional High School’s Mental Health Walk in Marion. It was great to speak to youth who joined and folks from other community serving organizations!

June 10, 2022
Presentations to Andover High School

Today we wrapped up two days of presentations at Andover High School, the very first school where The NAN Project presented in a classroom! A big thank you to Holly Breen and the supportive educators at AHS for making us feel especially welcome. 

June 7, 2022
Presentations to 5th Graders at MLK Charter in Springfield

We had our first ever presentation to 5th graders at Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence today! They students were so knowledgeable about trusted adults and signs of a mental health challenge. We really appreciate Lori and all the staff who make MLK Jr. Charter a safe space to talk about mental health! We also had our second presentation for the George Keverian School’s students yesterday! They asked some thoughtful questions about our Peer Mentors’ stories and suggested some great coping skills like drawing, listening to music, and exercise!

June 6, 2022
Presentations to George Keverian School in Everett

Today we returned to George Keverian School in Everett and presented comeback stories to 111 8th graders. The students opened up about mental health in their lives and asked questions on how to support those with mental health challenges.

June 3, 2022
Mental Health 101 & Coaching Day

Today our team presented Mental Health 101 to school nurses in Malden, and we also ended this busy week with a fun coaching day for our Peer Mentors. We worked on our middle school comeback stories and wrote thank you notes to the schools we presented to this year. It was a great way to reflect on how much of an impact we have made this year, and look forward to finishing strong with the rest of our presentations before summer break. We also wanted to give a big thank you to The Cummings Foundation for all their support!

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