In recent years we’ve heard teen voices leading the way on so many issues: climate change, gun reform, and education equity, to name just a few. With HereNow, teens are also breaking down stigma around mental health challenges — and doing so in new ways with the HereNow app that launched this month.
HereNow, a project of The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services with support by UJA-Federation, started several years ago. Led by teens, for teens, HereNow supports mental health, wellness, and resilience through creativity and innovative online platforms. This summer 65 teens from the New York area participated in HereNow leadership roles, guiding HereNow activities, participating in internships, and sharing their stories to help support other teens.
With depression and anxiety on the rise for teens this pandemic year, the HereNow app couldn’t come at a better time.
“I think apps are one of the main ways to make online resources more accessible to teens,” says Ray, who is a high school writing intern with HereNow. “I’m hoping that being able to just download the app will show people how simple it is to start engaging more mindfully with their mental health.”
The app has been in the works for nearly a year.
“Teens wanted this app and envisioned it before Covid,” says Pamela Schuller, HereNow director. “We put together a board of teens who wanted to help build and create it. Then Covid hit, and it became this opportunity to dive into something that was an important response to the lives that teens suddenly found themselves living.”
The free HereNow app, which is on now available on Google Play and the App Store, lets teens share articles, videos, and art. Teens can ask questions about mental health and receive personal responses from other teens and social workers. The app’s not intended for someone in crisis, but if a teen’s wondering what resources exist to cope with anxiety or depression, wondering how to help a friend they’re worried about, or wanting to explore other mental health topics, the HereNow app offers a ton of information to dip into.
“I hope that the HereNow app aids in showing teens that talking about their mental health issues isn’t taboo or something to be afraid of,” says Orly, a HereNow teen leader. “Teens need an active platform to gain and give advice, and my hope is that HereNow can be that platform.”
For Ray, HereNow has already given him the chance he was looking for.
“HereNow let me have a small platform as a queer and trans Jew on issues that impact my community,” he says. “With the HereNow app, I hope more people start to realize everyone has their own mental health to take care of. The more people start to realize and open up to that, the healthier our society can be.”
To learn more, contact HereNow.