Norfolk nonprofit founder fights stigma around mental health
Dorian Hollingsworth Jr. was a sophomore at a New York high school when he realized the importance of teaching people about mental health.
One morning in 2018, before he and his mother moved to Norfolk, he was talking on the phone with his best friend. He noticed that the tone of his voice had changed.
“Hey, something’s going on,” Hollingsworth recalled, his friend said, “like the atmosphere was different at his school that day.”
A student had committed suicide.
Hollingsworth, now 21, didn’t know the student, but the episode led him to found the Teen Care Network, which earned Hollingsworth a McDonald’s 2023 Black and Positively Golden Change Leader honor. On Sunday, he’ll use the $20,000 prize to host “Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience,” downtown, in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The Teen Care Network connects teens with mental health resources, promotes positive thinking, and teaches therapeutic coping skills through social media.
“Our mission is a mission of love,” said Hollingsworth, who plans to study psychology at Old Dominion University in the fall. “To bridge the gap between people in need and the resources they need so we can create healthy conversations around mental health.”
The “Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience” is a guided painting experience open to anyone 13 years and older and is meant to be a time to “take a moment”, breathe, relax, practice mindfulness and promote healthy thinking and living through the creative process.
He said news of the 2018 suicide threw his psyche into emotional turmoil. He wondered then if there were people who could have intervened or if there were places where someone his age could go to get help.
Hollingsworth founded the network informally that year and continued its work after he and his mother moved to Norfolk. He graduated from Granby High School in 2020 and last year Hollingsworth applied for and was granted nonprofit status for the Teen Care Network, he said.
The group posts mental health advice and resource guides on social media that teens can watch while scrolling through their favorite platforms.
“Like on TikTok,” Hollingsworth said, “it might be a dance video, but the video overlay has tips on positive workouts for your mental health or positive meditation tips.”
Teen Care Network often posts images of people working, being, and having fun in harmony.
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“We like to spread images of love and messages of love, connection and understanding.”
Colin Warren-Hicks, 919-818-8139, [email protected]
When: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Or: Event space at 253 Monticello Ave., Norfolk
Tickets: $20 per person or $25 for two people