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How this student is raising awareness about mental health during the pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the clock when it sent us home, especially not for teens. Young Coloradans are missing dances, internships and so much more. 

Before the pandemic, 16-year-old Jak Rogoff regularly led homeroom activities at his high school in Lakewood. As a peer leader for the suicide prevention program, Sources of Strength, he guided activities to raise awareness about mental health resources and help students’ strengthen their support networks.

He continues to lead activities in virtual classrooms, but “it’s a lot harder.”

“There’s people who have their cameras off, and they don’t want to listen, so they just zone you out,” he explained.

Still, Rogoff’s motivation for being a peer leader is the same whether he’s in-person or online.

“I just try to be a person that other people can talk to,” he said. “I’ve had times in my life where I felt like I didn’t have anybody to talk to, and my biggest goal is to make sure that nobody else gets to that place where they feel helpless.”

Rogoff was bullied in elementary and middle school, and those experiences inspired him to become a Sources of Strength leader his freshman year.

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This profile is based on a panelist interview for “Call to Mind Presents: Life’s Not On Hold – Teens Navigate Missed Milestones.” On Jan. 28, 2021, Colorado Public Radio’s Avery Lill will lead a discussion with and for teens to share their experiences, along with licensed therapist and school social worker Feliz Fraser, and Rosalind Wiseman, teen mental health advocate and author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes.” The discussion will explore the losses teens have faced during the pandemic and solutions for navigating this turbulent time in their lives.

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