The Garage fights for mental health in teenagers

Caitlyn Croppi, Assistant News Editor

A safe space, a free counselor, a night of education, and a dog: The Garage Teen cafe pulls out all the stops to help the teenagers of this community.
Depression, anxiety, panic, and many other serious mental disorders are something that Liberty is no stranger to. But Liberty is not alone. Worldwide teenage depression, harm to others, and self-harm rates are on the rise, according to studies done by John Hopkins University.
The Garage, which started this year, has a mission to provide a safe space for all teenagers, starting with the ones in this community. Aware of the rise, it knew they had to do something, according to Program Organizer Caitlin Burh.
Its first step was to talk to its Teens for Teens group, a group of teens from the community who have a leadership position at The Garage, to see if this is something they’d be interesting in creating . It passed unanimously.

“I see my friends, my peers, struggling in a battle they think is supposed to be silent, I’ve always wanted to help but I never found a medium to, until now. The Garage is the perfect place because everyone who is here, wants to be here, they are passionate about helping and it really is a place where everyone is welcome,” junior Teens for Teens member Olivia Van Ry said.
Then the Teens for Teens and program organizers, like Burh, devised the best plan of action, some things as a funny coincidence, and others hard work. They were between counselors so now they are working fast to find the new best fit on that end. But a friend of the Teen Cafe, Dea Barnett, without hearing of their plans wanted to see how she could help a place she’s learned to love so much.
“Pet therapy is amazing, especially with kids. I’m a child psychiatrist by training, but I love animals, especially my dog Luke. I feel like he really helps here. There’s something about slowing down and connecting to another being, it just really helps,” Barnett said.
Luke and Barnett come every Tuesday from three to four thirty pm. Other than a counselor and a therapy dog, The Garage also had a Know the Signs Training on March 28.
“A huge problem teenagers face is that if their friends tell them they have a problem, they are hurting themselves or thinking about hurting others, they feel a responsibility to deal with themselves, this training is for teenagers and how to recognize it in themselves and their friends, and what to do. It wasn’t like a health class, the training was structured to be more of an open conversation,” Buhr said.
With all of these efforts, the Garage hopes that students from Liberty will come and benefit too.