Gabby Frost, a Drexel University music industry major, has been building her non-profit organization, the Buddy Project, to promote mental health awareness and prevent suicide.
“Mental health is an important issue today. The rate for suicide has increased, and college and high school have become tougher and tougher, especially with things such as standardized testing, pressures of getting into college, and being on your own for the first time,” Frost said.
The Buddy Project aims to help those struggling with mental health issues by pairing people with “buddies,” with whom they can talk online.
Frost came up with the idea when she was using social media to find people with similar interests. After making many online friends throughout the world, she realized that people suffering from mental illness deserve the same opportunities. Since then, she has built the Buddy Project from the ground up. Instead of paying for advertisements, the Buddy Project grew through word of mouth and social media posts made by Frost herself.
The Buddy Project has continued to grow for the past five years. To date, it has paired over 219,000 people; it has recently become a 501(c)(3) and raised $40,000 for mental health facilities in the United States. However, Frost is also proud of the less tangible impacts that the Buddy Project has had. Many buddies have made life-long online friends, forging lasting relationships and in some cases, even meeting in person.
Frost is currently working on developing an app for Android and iPhone to bring The Buddy Project to mobile devices. She is also hoping to increase the scale of the project by raising funds through efforts such as a benefit concert, utilizing her skills as a music industry major. Finally, she wants to expand the Campus Rep Program to bring the Buddy Project to more middle school, high school and college campuses, and the Ambassador program, which encourages influencers of any type to raise awareness about mental health.
For students that are dealing with mental health issues, Frost recommends several things to deal with the pressures and stresses of college.
“Make sure you don’t prioritize your grades or schoolwork over yourself. You should surround yourself with people that will push you to put your mental health first. Finally, reach out, even if it’s tough to do. It’s good for yourself to get the help that you need to cope with your mental health,” Frost said.
Drexel has a free counseling center for students, and according to Frost, it is a great resource for those struggling with mental health. However, Frost wants these services to be promoted more frequently. She wants to make sure that all students know that it exists and that it is a free resource available to them.
Frost also has recommendations for helping others who may be struggling with mental health issues.
“Be willing to listen to people. Listening is so important, some people don’t even need to hear feedback, they just want to let out whatever they are going through and what they’re feeling. Also make sure that your friends do small self-care things, like eating, showering and brushing their teeth. Accomplishing those small things can help people find the strength to do more challenging things for those struggling with mental health issues,” she said.