Orange United – Mental Health Initiative

By Lucy Jones

Junior Charlie Hobin recently created Orange United as a resolution to combat the issues regarding mental health. The initiative commenced with the nationwide movement of school safety in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Hobin soon realized that Orange United should focus on the improvement of student’s mental health rather than the broad topic of safety.

“We, as students, all care about the mental health of one another, yet there has not been a platform to outwardly express our concerns until now,” Hobin said. “Orange United is on a mission to change that.”

The organization strives to create a safe environment for teenagers that are struggling with mental illness to know that they aren’t alone in their fight.

“I believe the issue is deeper than physical school safety,” Hobin said. “After looking into adolescent mental health, the magnitude of the issue in every community made me feel as if I needed to be the one to make a change in my own.”

Through his non-profit, Hobin established Orange United based on a student led network. Hobin’s network comes as an alternative from forced relationships between students and school counselors. Storm only has 5 counselors for over 1,600 students, meaning every counselor has 320 kids.

An article by Keck School of Medicine at USC provides an estimate that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world.

Juniors Zach Jepson and William Nyman soon joined Hobin to help advertise the organization. Soon, they realized how much potential Hobins movement has and  wanted to become a larger part of it. 

“We want to emphasize peer to peer support as much as possible as well as completely change the stigma behind mental health issues,” Jepson said. “We want everyone to feel open to talking about their obstacles knowing that their voices are always valued.”

One way Hobin and his companions creates a stronger sense of community is through their orange bracelets. They designed a simple piece of jewelry that lets everyone know that whomever is wearing the distinct orange bracelet is willing to listen to their classmates. The proceeds of these bracelets have gone towards the making of posters that they plan to hang up around schools in the Central Oregon area and eventually, schools within a larger radius. 

“We have started to make some banners that will be hung up around schools and hopefully signed by students pledging their commitment to support their peers through their struggles,” Jepson said. “The more people we can get involved, the more powerful Orange United can be. We want to be a resource for anyone.”

They have set goals for themselves, hoping to have Orange United clubs at every Middle school and High school in Central Oregon. Additionally, they have been talking to schools in Portland, Oregon, trying to start the initiative in larger cities and districts.

“There is no stopping point for Orange United. I genuinely believe that it could make a national impact with the right media platforms and local support. We desperately need to make some severe changes to how we combat these pressing issues,” Nyman said.

The Orange United initiative hopes to make leaps and bounds with every individual as a cornerstone to its success. Hobin and his cofounders has committed themselves to the improvement of peer to peer support on a local and soon to be national level.

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