(This feature originally appeared on WPVI-TV/6abc.)
A 2017 Biblical Studies graduate of LBC | Capital – Philadelphia was featured on WPVI-TV for her work in mental health and suicide prevention. The station reported in its regular “Philly Proud” segment that Sarah-Ashley Andrews of the city’s Strawberry Mansion section lost a close friend to suicide when she was 25 years old. That tragedy put her on a life-changing path. Andrews launched a suicide prevention organization called Dare to Hope, which encourages mental health conversations within the community.
“I wanted to be able to educate people and that kind of changed the trajectory of my life,” Andrews said. “I was going to school to be a Mass Communication major, and now I found myself with a master’s in counseling.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree at LBC | Capital’s Philadelphia location, Andrews used her master degree to further Dare to Hope. With it, she addresses and encourages conversations about mental health with Philadelphia’s inner-city youth. Some residents are in third grade, while others are up to 25 years old.
“To break that stigma that’s surrounding it because so many people don’t want to talk about it,” Andrews said. “And especially in the Black community, it’s thrown kind of under the rug. So how can we bring it from under the rug to the forefront? Let’s normalize this. Let’s have these unrestricted conversations about our mental health because we need it.”
Did you know? May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Learn more from NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness
With those participating in her assemblies and programs, Andrews does everything from teaching about mental wellness, healthy diets, life skills, conflict resolution, anger management, has COVID-safe zoom discussions and runs volunteer events like feeding the homeless and random acts of kindness.
“I want that to be the place they know they feel safe at because a lot of these children need a safe space,” she said. “They just need a safe space to be themselves and to grow in and see who they can become.”
Andrews adds that Dare to Hope has helped and connected with well over 5,000 youth since the start of the organization in 2013.
“We can’t help what we go through, right?” Andrews shared. “We can’t help what we are exposed to, but we can help what we speak life to … how we get help (and) how we change the situation. I’m living my life on purpose. I had to go through what I had to go through to get to here so that we can help as many people as we can.”