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Nonprofit Organization MindFULL Me Helps Teens Cope With Worst Mental Health Crisis In Recent Memory

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Fort Lauderdale High School students are learning how to manage stress and anxiety through MindFULL Me, a nonprofit aimed at creating better mental health.

Founder Dan Katz, who is a teacher at the school, said he introduced the program in 2020 just as the pandemic was beginning.

"We need some avenue to empty our glasses. When our glasses overfill, that's when we make poor decisions. Mindfulness allows us to empty our glasses, so we have room for life," said Katz.

The students meet every other week for 90 minutes and are led through stress-relieving activities like yoga and deep breathing.

It's one strategy to help teenagers cope with what's being called a mental health crisis. According to the CDC, the crisis is hitting teenagers especially hard. Forty-four percent say they feel a level of sadness, more than any other time in recent memory.

One in four girls says she has thought about ending her life.

The uncertainty of the pandemic with shutdowns and at-home learning contributed to the problem.

Senior Hillary Harvauer said she struggled during quarantine. "I had issues with bottling up and bursting out on people and myself.

She said MindFULL Me has helped center her emotions.

Ben Polsky, 15, said he has learned to face his fears.

"It helps calm me down with nervous anxiety. Helps me control it," he said.

Child therapist James Phillips said he sees a sense of sadness, especially among the high school students he counsels. He tries to get to the root of that sadness.

"A lot of times the answer is I don't know. There's nothing in life I love. I don't have good social connections.

Phillips said parents can be part of the solution by having an open forum for discussions with their kids, encouraging responsibility and accountability and getting back to socialization.

"Socialization is more than having friends. It's learning how to deal with situations like bullying."

For more information on MindFULL Me, go to mindfullme.org

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