Colorado youth selected for state behavioral health leadership program

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DENVER (Feb. 19, 2021) — Nearly 60 Colorado youth have been selected for the 2021 Below the Surface program, an initiative of Colorado Crisis Services, that empowers young people to promote the Colorado Crisis Line in their schools and communities across the state. 

The 2021 cohort includes 58 youth from 43 schools and colleges who will help craft marketing messages and manage local outreach campaigns that drive use of the Colorado Crisis text line. Given the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, most activities will take place virtually and focus on sustaining connections. 

Below the Surface ad

“The stress of the pandemic continues to have an impact, and we know many Colorado youth are struggling with mental health and substance use,” said Robert Werthwein, director of the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH). OBH administers Colorado Crisis Services. “This youth-led program is a critical way we can connect more young people to free, confidential and professional support. I am thrilled to see such a vested interest by Colorado’s youth to help improve our behavioral health system.” 

Below the Surface aims to help teens of all backgrounds successfully navigate academic and social pressures; bullying and harassment; substance use; depression and anxiety; gender and sexuality identities; family instability; and additional challenges. The goal is to raise awareness and use of the Colorado Crisis text line. Since the leadership program launched in 2019, more than 100 youth have participated representing 77 high schools and colleges. 

“During a global pandemic, it seems like everything is out of control, but one thing we can control is how we react,” said Rosalinda Guzman, a senior at Windsor Charter Academy in Windsor, Colorado. “I reacted by joining the Below the Surface program to help bring light to the stress and mental health problems during this vital time in hopes of reaching at least one person.”

The announcement follows a record-breaking year for the Colorado Crisis Line, which fielded more than 258,500 calls and texts in 2020 — up from about 168,000 in 2019 — and experienced a 36% increase in volume since the start of the pandemic. State officials are encouraging Coloradans to continue to use the line this spring when people historically attempt suicide at higher rates, according to research published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine

The 2021 cohort includes the following youth, whose school or institution and hometown are also listed below. Please note that some participants have not disclosed their information. 

  • Kutad Duzgun, Lakewood High School, Arvada
  • Daniey Bere, Prairie View High School, Aurora
  • D'Andrea Boakye, Hinkley High School, Aurora
  • Annie Dinh, Cherokee Trail High School, Aurora
  • Jireth Galeana, Smoky Hill High School, Aurora
  • Elizabeth Koenck, Smoky Hill High School, Aurora
  • Miranda Ruiz, Eaglecrest High School, Aurora
  • Makayla Etter, Cedaredge High School, Austin
  • Halle Loveday, Bayfield High School, Bayfield
  • Sarah Kouns, Berthoud High School, Berthoud
  • Joselyn Garcia, Boulder High School, Boulder
  • Teagan McNally, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder
  • Maliah Clark, Broomfield High School, Broomfield
  • Anoushka Jani, Legacy High School, Broomfield
  • Arya Nandyal, Peak to Peak Charter School, Broomfield
  • Shyanne Garrett, Brush High School, Brush
  • Adan Rodriguez, Brush High School, Brush
  • Jonathan Walter, Brush High School, Brush
  • Saloni Agarwal, Cherry Creek High School, Centennial
  • Rohan Guddanti, Smoky Hill High School, Centennial
  • Brisseily Cejudo, Atlas Preparatory High School, Colorado Springs
  • Yesenia Cruz Garduno, Atlas Preparatory High School, Colorado Springs
  • Peniel Owusu-Ansah, Colorado College, Colorado Springs
  • Lindy Zhang, Cheyenne Mountain High School, Colorado Springs
  • Jadon Cruzan, Montezuma-Cortez High School, Cortez
  • Quinn Maness, Montezuma-Cortez High School, Cortez
  • Addie Bean, Kent Denver School, Denver
  • Callahan Hernandez, East High School, Denver
  • Daijah Mijares-Morales, DSST College View High School, Denver
  • Farrah Bendell, Cherry Creek High School, Englewood
  • Andrew Blanco, Erie High School, Erie
  • Carlie Alsup, Evergreen Senior High School, Evergreen
  • Maggie Mosley, Poudre High School, Fort Collins
  • Kenna Grippin, Brush High School, Fort Morgan
  • Linna Mora-Calderon, Summit High School, Frisco
  • Maressa Mora-Calderon, Summit High School, Frisco
  • Matilda Laine, University High School, Greeley
  • Talia Richard-Lande, Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village
  • Aidan McNally, JK Mullen High School, Highlands Ranch
  • Kierra Ehnes, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Kierra Evans, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Emily Fowler, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Kiley Goshe, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Aaliyah Ingram, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Jensen Renquist, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Alyssa Shubik, Julesburg High School, Julesburg
  • Rosalinda Guzman, Windsor Charter Academy, Kersey
  • Emma Johnston, Greeley Central High School, LaSalle
  • Shelnna Huynh, University of Colorado Denver, Littleton
  • Kaden Piel, Merino High School, Merino
  • Sage Wilber, Montrose High School, Montrose
  • Drew Landy, Middle Park High School, Parshall
  • Jocelyn Gamez, Centennial High School, Pueblo West
  • Katie von Steinman, Sterling High School, Sterling
  • Mia Taylor, Monarch High School, Superior
  • Emily Eigenbrode, Horizon High School, Thornton

Below the Surface was launched in 2017 in response to a wave of teen suicides in Colorado Springs. Developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Colorado Springs and the Design Rangers creative firm, the campaign recruited a youth advisory board to craft messages from real stories and experiences. Following the campaign’s success in El Paso County, OBH invested in the initiative to expand it statewide in October 2018. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. Learn more at coloradocrisisservices.org.

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications
madlynn.ruble@state.co.us
303.866.3411