Utah sisters launch company to spread awareness about mental health
May 14, 2023, 11:02 PM | Updated: May 15, 2023, 1:59 pm
LEHI, Utah — Melanie Haskins and Alisha Petersen are sisters on a mission.
“This one says, ‘Some of your best days haven’t happened yet,'” Haskins read on a sweatshirt that sat on her kitchen counter.
The two sisters recently launched a small clothing line called “No Norm, and they’re very open about their goals.
“That’s our goal to continue to end the stigma,” explained Haskins. “And whatever people are dealing with, that’s ok.”
Two years ago, Haskins’ daughter came to her and told the young mom she was in a dark place. Haskins did what most parents would. She blamed herself.
“I don’t know that anything can really prepare you for that,” Haskins teared up as she recalled that time. “My first thought is that I had failed somehow, I had failed her.”
The following months became a crash course in finding out more about depression, social media, and statistics that shocked her.
“The pediatrician made a comment to me that since 2020 the majority of his day is spent writing prescriptions or prescribing psychology or therapist appointments for kids,” she said.
Haskins then realized the problem was widespread, and she knew she had to do something more.
She reached out to her younger sister, who has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression for years.
“I struggled with OCD and anxiety since I was about 14 years old,” Petersen said.
And for many of those years, she hid her battle until it came to a head in her early adulthood. The sisters started brainstorming.
“I felt very inspired that, um, as I was going through kind of the depths of this with my daughter, that it was meant to be so much more than just that moment of time,” Haskins said. Petersen agreed.
They wanted something that teens would gravitate toward and would open conversations about depression, sadness, and other so-called “mental illnesses.”
The two landed on sweatshirts with positive messaging.
The words hit hard for Kenlee Burt. A year and a half ago, she attempted suicide – which is hard to imagine when talking to her. She’s an enthusiastic teenager with stylish hair, a perfect smile, and an obvious zest for life. But, during her junior year of high school, her world started caving in on her.
“I was balancing volleyball, school more sport, work, friends, family; it just wasn’t working out for me,” she recalled. “I woke up the next morning in the hospital just so mad, I was mad at my mom for finding me that night and for bringing me to the hospital; I was just so mad at everyone.”
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A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control shows in 2021, nearly 3 in 5 teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless. Those numbers became obvious to Haskins and Petersen after their initial launch.
“For the first few weeks, it really kind of like, it was heavy,” Haskins said.
Heavy because the women had cracked open real stories, not just statistics of struggling kids.
Stories started pouring in on their Instagram site, and the two quickly realized how important their work was.
Stories like Kenlee’s have only deepened Melanie and Alisha’s commitment to bringing meaningful, open conversations to the surface. Their hope is the messages on their clothing – “Be you, not them,” “Your story isn’t over,” and “It won’t feel like this forever” will open the door to help those who need it.
They definitely hit home for Kenlee, who, even on her hard days, said she reads the patch on her left arm and truly believes it.
“I know that my best days are still coming.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.
- SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-3388)
- SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
- SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
- Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.
Other community-based resources
- NAMI Utah provides education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers prevention programs, public education, support for loss survivors, and fundraising for research.
- Encircle Utah: LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center.
- Utah Pride Center empowers Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community.
- The Trevor Project: LGBTQ teen resource center.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health
- Latino Behavioral Health Services
Center for Workplace Mental Health offers suicide prevention and response for employers.