DES MOINES, Iowa — ‘Please Pass the Love’ is a non-profit organization in Des Moines that focuses on youth mental health programming.
“Among young people, suicide is the second leading cause of death and our group was kind of founded out of that mental health crisis for young people,” Please Pass the Love Director of Communications Ben Swanson said.
Swanson said teachers are a constant in many young people’s lives and many teachers don’t have the resources to address mental health.
That’s where Please Pass the Love comes in.
“We want to put resources in the hands and education in the hands of teachers as well as, with youth programming like this, put resources in the hands of kids themselves to go back to their schools, make changes in their school’s culture and climate and make changes for the better,” Swanson said.
Normally the organization hosts conferences for teachers but on Monday this “Stomp Out Stigma” conference is all about the students.
To help pass along the message is guest speaker Royce White. White has been an advocate for mental health since he came into college basketball at Iowa State and then moved on to the NBA where it was a huge friction point between him and the NBA and his career.
He is urging students to make changes in their lives by reaching out for help when they need it, allowing others to talk about mental health and stomping out the stigma around mental illness in their community.
Please Pass the Love said having White come speak about his own struggles is important for students to hear.
“Having someone who can come and speak to students and speak to young people about that experience of not only seeking help and realizing that it’s okay to need help or need additional resources but also that you can grow from that,” Swanson said.
The sold-out conference is on Monday and they are expecting around 600 students.