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Crisis therapy friends from Philly team up to help others get lifesaving therapy access

Friends who met in crisis therapy now helping others access mental health treatment
Friends who met in crisis therapy now helping others access mental health treatment 02:33

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- As we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, this weekend will be the annual Out of the Darkness Walk to Prevent Suicide in Philadelphia with about 5,000 walkers expected.

This is a homegrown effort. Two young women from the Philadelphia area found hope through therapy to share what they learned. The duo started a virtual therapy platform designed for teens and young adults

"There are times when we might fight like sisters but that's OK," Caroline Fenkel said. 

Caroline Fenkel and Carter Barnhart are friends and business partners, a relationship that started in the Philadelphia suburbs when they were in crisis therapy struggling with mental health issues.

"When I was 14, I was sexually assaulted and then afterwards struggled with anxiety, depression, trauma," said Barnhart, CEO of Charlie Health.

Fenkel struggled with addiction and bipolar disorder and went on to become a therapist.

"Hearing the words 'me too,' 'I know what that's like,' 'I've been there' -- when I heard that from Carter it helped me to feel a sense of healing," Fenkel said. 

Wanting to share their healing journey, they created Charlie Health named for a friend. It's a virtual therapy platform that provides mental health counseling for teenagers and young adults.

"Our main mission is to provide access to life-saving treatment for anybody in the comfort of their own homes," Fenkel said. 

Therapy needs are growing with the mental health crisis among American teenagers becoming an epidemic, according to doctors.

CBS News Philadelphia

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 to 24. 

Last year more than 49,000 people took their own lives -- that's more than any other year on record. 

"We know group treatment works. We know suicide is preventable," Barnhart said. 

Fenkel and Barnhart said group therapy can be especially helpful for teens -- it worked for them. With Charlie Health patients are placed virtually with peers from similar backgrounds through a telehealth platform and then work with licensed therapists.

"We know by delivering in the comfort of your own home, where they'd able to talk abbot triggering events while sitting petting cat, can be just so transformative," Fenkel said. 

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available anytime at 9-8-8. 

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