BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of teens consider anxiety and depression a major problem among peers. To combat those statistics, Martez Files is creating mental health kits for Birmingham city schools’ seniors.
Files is a professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and is an activist in the Magic City. He works with high school seniors through Upward Bound and sees firsthand the stress teens face as they transition into college.
While the stigma of mental health still exists, he hopes his kits can offer some help to those who feel they can’t speak up.
“In talking to them, I realized a lot them don’t know how to cope, didn’t have resources for coping, they didn’t have the things they needed to think through their depression,” said Martez.
Martez dealt with depression himself as a child. He lost his mother and felt he couldn’t talk to the other adults in his life.
“I know how important it is to support that journey. I’m also someone who is a childhood suicide survivor,” said Martez.
As an adult, he has seen how mental health resources can help him. The mental health kits he’s making will include journals with writing prompts, pens, eye masks, stress balls, pillows, essential oils, teas, teddy bears, and blankets.
“I want kids that don’t have access to others to hug, to have something to hug.”Martez Files
The Birmingham City School Board is happy to have Files investing in its students.
“I wish we could clone him! We definitely need more Martez Files. What I love about it is that he is of the community, and he’s doing it for the community,” said Terri Michal, a district 2 school board representative.
If you’d like to donate, items can be dropped off at Pratt City Library at 509 Dugan Avenue in Birmingham. To donate monetarily, cash can be sent through PayPal by clicking here.