Meet Team ME. (from left) Dr. Angie, Adrian, Jay, Jazzy, and Maria. Not pictured is “Big Bro” who appears occasionally via cell phone while enrolled at JSU.
Jackson, MS—Mississippi teens are a major partner with Teen Health Mississippi in a social media awareness campaign that connects Mississippi youth to high-quality and youth-friendly mental and sexual-reproductive health resources. Teen Health Mississippi, in partnership with Power to Decide, recently launched Project Mind Elevation. Project ME. has introduced six youthful, animated personas, vetted and approved by teens state-wide, who are “interacting” on popular social media channels. As the ME. teens experience the same struggles as their real-life friends, they will recommend and provide information about resources and services available to youth across the state. The lives of the ME. teens can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat under the username “MS.TeamMe”.
“For far too long, sexual health and mental health have been taboo topics in the state of Mississippi. We want to change that by providing a youth-friendly platform for youth to stay connected and to get factual information,” says Dr. Hope L. Crenshaw, Executive Director for Teen Health Mississippi.
Research shows that those who experience mental health concerns are less likely to practice sexual safety, placing youth at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. Though the teen pregnancy rate in Mississippi has been declining in recent years, the state continues to lag far behind other states in rates of births to teens and in sexually transmitted infections.
Project ME.’s goal is to ensure Mississippi youth have knowledge and information to reduce their risk, but more importantly, to make informed decisions about their lives. Project ME. uses six colorful illustrations and storytelling to address topics such as relationships, consent, depression, anxiety, birth control access/contraception, body confidence, LGBTQ allyship, and friendship.
Although the project is social media based, there are 10 Project ME. Influencers (ages 14-25) creating face-to-face connections with their peers across the state. ME. Influencers’ responsibilities also include: crafting character story lines, hosting community-based workshops, vetting content to ensure youth-friendly brand identity, and sharing project related information.
Project ME. Influencer Marchellos Scott, 16, says, “ME. is something amazing because it focuses on so many real-life problems. We [teens] all are dealing with problems and having something like ME. really comes in handy. I’m really excited about being part of the project.”
“The exciting thing about this project is that it puts accurate, youth-friendly information about mental health and sexual health right into the hands of teens- literally- who have the hardest time getting it- teens who live in rural areas and who, historically, are undeserved in these health care areas,” shares Justin Lofton, Youth Engagement Coordinator for Teen Health Mississippi.
Project ME. is entirely youth-led. Youth may find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat under the username “MS.TeamMe”.
Teen Health Mississippi is a nonpartisan nonprofit that envisions a Mississippi built on a foundation of healthy communities in which all teens have access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare services. All of Teen Health Mississippi’s work is in partnership with youth and falls within three primary domains: policy and advocacy, training and capacity building, and programs and initiatives.
To learn more information about the ME. Project, visit https://teenhealthms.org/policy-and-advocacy/mypage/ or contact Justin Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (601)487-1228.