This Tech Nonprofit Is Helping Youth Of Color Heal From Trauma And Violence

Helping teens' well-being, one text at a time.

For some kids and teens, parental controls or logging off the Internet does not necessarily shield them from violence. For these youth, violence is right where they live. 

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, "The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence indicates that more than 60 percent of children from birth to 17 years experience victimization, and 38 percent witness violence sometime during childhood." The report also states that this number is even greater for Black children and teens residing in inner cities. Last year, Time reported that Black children faced the highest rates of gun-related homicides.

A new resource for these people to cope has emerged called MindRight, a new tech nonprofit that aims to empower youth, particularly those of color.  

Currently based in Camden, NJ, Newark, NJ, Stockton, CA, and Washington, DC, the app offers personalized live-coaching via text message for teens and children in crisis. MindRight coaches — volunteers who are vetted, trained, and supervised in real-time by licensed mental health professionals — are available before and after school, and to do daily check-ins.

According to the MindRight website, they "provide a judgement-free place for growth, healing, and hope." 

The two founders of MindRight, Ashley Edwards and Alina Liao, met in graduate school at Stanford University and were inspired by the lack of mental health support available for youths in inner city communities.  

"My background is in education," Edwards told A Plus. "I worked at a charter school in Newark, NJ and just saw how many of my students were going through traumatic experiences, but there was a very limited amount of psychological support at school. For instance, I had students who would witness gun violence, have parents who are incarcerated, or feeling insecurity at home. And when they come to school, there's so much focus on getting good grades and not putting your head down in the classroom, but no one is actually talking about what's going on in their lives and the trauma that a lot of them may have been experiencing" 

Youth of color are exposed to violence outside their home environment as well.  In recent years, videos of police brutality have flooded our newsfeeds on social media. While such videos may help raise awareness, they can have a negative impact on the psyche of Black people living in America, especially Black children. 

With social media becoming almost a necessity in our lives, many companies and initiatives are using technology to help promote mental wellness and protect those struggling with mental illness. Unplugging may be a great self-care tool, but we should also be able to find some sort of peace online. This is particularly ideal for today's teens who are vulnerable to everything from violent videos to cyberbullying

Along with giving kids and teens tips on how to cope and survive, MindRight helps breaks the stigma surrounding mental illness, and getting mental health support. Edwards told A Plus she hopes her work will help inspire people to take the time to heal, and then to be able to help others. 

In a Forbes video, (MindRight was recently recognized in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur list) Edwards also expressed her hope that MindRight will not only heal those in need, but will help break the vicious cycle that causes the trauma in the first place. 

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