Wichita students help peers struggling with mental health, substance abuse


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A group who helps people with substance abuse is now focusing on a younger generation who may need a different kind of help.

This school year, several students with Safe Streets will be working to connect peers with mental health resources.

August means back to school for many Wichita students, and a new start for some, like Claire Hardman.

“See kids who are struggling with depression and anxiety,” said Claire Hardman, Youth Mobilizer.

The Northwest High Student has a passion for helping those struggling with mental health and substance abuse. She wants her peers to know, she has their back.

“I will always be a listening ear for them, and if they need something, I would love it if they could come to me so that I could give them the resources that they need to get help,” said Hardman.

She’s part of a new program with the Safe Streets Coalition. Hardman is one of five Youth Mobilizers in Wichita schools.

Supervisors say they play an important role in the conversation on mental health and substance abuse among teens, a talk some teens will feel more comfortable having, with someone their own age.

“It’s vital that we have young people on board to really help not just identify what the issues are but to help put in the work to make the changes happen,” said Danielle Ramirez, Safe Streets Program Director.

Hardman says she’s already introduced art therapy to some students, and is looking forward to future activities.

It’s a support system the women hope will grow, because the struggles, do not discriminate.

“This is happening in all schools, across all demographics and I think having a young person in your school would be a true connection to those people and the issues there,” said Ramirez.

If you are interested in becoming a Youth Mobilizer in your school, you can find Safe Streets on Facebook and send them a message.

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