By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
With a passion for helping those who struggle with mental health, Palisadian teen Lauren Fuchs and her friend Cooper Klein have joined forces to advocate for mental health among teenagers, creating The Thrive Initiative.
The longtime friends, currently sophomores at Brentwood School, stayed connected during COVID-19 safer at home orders. The duo decided to take action after realizing the negative impacts on their own mental health, as well as other people, due to the pandemic.
“We stayed in touch throughout the spring and had weekly check-in calls just to talk, and we were both struggling with isolation and loneliness—things we had never experienced before,” Fuchs, who lives in the Via Bluffs, said to the Palisadian-Post. “After talking to each other and some of our peers, we realized that these were universal struggles that all teens were experiencing and not really knowing how to cope with.”
This inspired the two to coordinate a mental health panel and initiate a conversation. They invited four mental health professionals to speak about issues that were prevalent during the pandemic among teens, including isolation and loneliness, anxiety, body image, and eating disorders.
Fuchs said they thought the panel would only reach students within Los Angeles, but it ended up reaching 100 participants from seven different states and 30 different high schools.
After a successful turnout and another panel in the summer, Fuchs and Klein wanted to create something more consistent. The two spent the summer designing The Thrive Initiative.
“The Thrive Initiative aims to spread awareness about mental health by fostering discussions to help erase the stigma around mental health and providing educational resources for teens to enhance their mental well-being,” according to its website. “We hope to inspire a generation of mental health advocates that will continue to spark the same conversations.”
The Thrive Initiative launched online in October 2020 and offers a number of resources to teenagers: From Fuchs and Klein’s self-written articles and podcast, to handpicked resources and recommendations.
“The goal in creating the website was basically to put everything in one place,” Fuchs explained. “We realized there was a real lack of this information out there or it was very difficult to access. That was the main purpose of the website, for it to be easy to access by teens so they wouldn’t have to carry out extensive research if they were in need of support.”
The Thrive Initiative’s weekly podcast invites mental health professionals to discuss different topics, including social media’s influence on body image, setting intentions, gratitude and how that impacts well-being, navigating healthy and toxic relationships, and more.
The two have hosted guests like Palisadian Dr. Dolly Klock, who discussed relationships on her episode. Other guests include Dr. Daniel Barone, Elyse Resch and Dr. Beth Pinals.
Fuchs said the work she’s been able to do through The Thrive Initiative has helped her embrace and be mindful of her own well-being throughout the pandemic.
“I would say The Thrive Initiative has given me a sense of purpose, the days can be very monotonous during this time … The Thrive Initiative has really kept me going, kept me motivated and engaged,” Fuchs said to the Post. “I love connecting with people and helping others and being able to do that in a way that I enjoy … it really does help me get out of bed in the morning knowing I can be of help to someone out there but also feel like I am helping myself.”
Fuchs said the two have built a steady platform and are currently working on outreach. The Thrive Initiative has reached approximately 40 countries, almost all 50 states so far and is “only hoping to grow.”
For more information, visit thethriveinitiative.org.
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