Former NY Knick Metta World Peace Says ‘Speak Up’ Harlem Youth

metta world peace

… 27% of New York City public high school students report feeling sad or hopeless almost every day.

The Health Department released a public service announcement today featuring former New York Knick Metta World Peace to help reduce the stigma about mental health and encourage teens and young adults to speak up about their problems. The public service announcement, called “Open Up, Be Heard” will be promoted on social media and featured on the Health Department’s NYC Teen page. The spot encourages young people to turn to a trusted adult for help and directs them to free resources available online.

According to the new 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 27% of New York City public high school students reported that they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks sometime in the past 12 months. Also, in the past 12 months, fifteen percent of public high school students reported doing something to purposely hurt themselves without wanting to die, such as cutting or burning themselves, and eight percent of New York City public high school students reported attempting suicide.

“It is critical that young people know that it’s okay to reach out for help with emotional issues,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “By speaking openly about his experience, Metta World Peace is an example for young people who are afraid of talking about their problems. We are so grateful to him for committing his time and insight to this important issue.”

“It’s so important for our youth to know that if they are having problems, they should talk to someone about it – and the City of New York has free and low cost services available to them,” said Metta World Peace. “It’s vital for people to receive services early, before problems become bigger. Prevention and early intervention are key so people can lead more productive, healthier, and happier lives.”

Metta World Peace grew up in the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and has been public about his own challenges managing his emotions and the benefit of getting help when he was young. Reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues remains an important issue to him and is a major focus of his work off the court with his foundation, Xcel University.

The Health Department encourages teens, healthcare providers, educators and caring adults supporting teens to visit the online site NYC Teen.Launched by the Department in 2011, NYC Teen is an online gateway for information, resources, and help on health and mental health related issues. Teens can view digital story blogs about young people who speak openly about their experiences and how they got help, as well as view fact sheets and take quizzes to raise their awareness about health and mental health issues. Community providers can download the NYC Teen Talk Kit, a free resource offering print and digital materials that can be used to promote and foster mental health awareness. The kit is also available by calling 311.

To view the public service announcement, go to www.nyc.gov/teen.

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