The recent $25,000 grant to the local Zero Reasons Why project will directly enhance the lives of teenagers facing mental-health issues, said Julie Kramp, executive director of The Center for Counseling & Consultation.
The Center coordinates the program throughout its service area in Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties.
Zero Reasons Why is a teen-led campaign to reduce teen suicide and emphasize that mental health is as important as physical health.
“This generous Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) grant is being used to spread the word about Zero Reasons Why,” Kramp said. “It will help us host more public events and engage more with traditional and social media outlets.
“While we know it will enhance young lives, we also believe it could actually help save lives,” she continued. “You cannot imagine how this grant will help us broaden the scope of our project. It is a Godsend.”
One goal is to normalize conversations about mental health, while reducing the stigma associated with it,” Kramp emphasized. “We want to encourage young people to reach out and ask for help. It is okay to talk about it.”
These issues are especially important because of COVID-19, Kramp noted. “We are beginning to see the impact the pandemic has had on teens who were isolated from family and friends, with no sports, band or other extracurricular activities. This has taken a toll.”
Zero Reasons Why started in Johnson County, which has reported a 33 percent drop in teen suicides.
“Yes, many factors are involved but Zero Reasons Why reduces the stigma and promotes access to care,” Kramp said. “The most important aspect of this campaign is that teens are at the heart of it. This is why it works. There is nothing that I know of that has been this successful.”
But it doesn’t stop with teenagers. Kramp is sharing information with parents, school administrators, teachers, businesses and other non-profit agencies.
“Partnerships are crucial,” she commented. “And now, thanks to this wonderful grant, we will reach even more people from all walks of life. Our teens deserve to know the community is behind them.”
Kramp noted that Zero Reasons Why got its start in central Kansas with COVID-related funds. The KHF grant gives it a boost so that it can continue in to the future.
Ashley Booker, KHF associate communication officer, said the Foundation is pleased to support the Zero Reasons Why campaign in central Kansas. “Reducing the stigma associated with mental health and improving access to care is critical for the health of young Kansans,” she said.