Meet Jared Bouloy, co-founder of Amare Outreach. Jared and Dana Pierce founded Amare Outreach to serve as a platform for students to share their stories in the hopes of educating, empowering, and encouraging those struggling with abuse and mental illness and providing them with a safe place to anonymously share their stories.
Many find the challenges associated with starting a non-profiting to be overwhelming, yet you and your friend Dana founded Amare Outreach as high schoolers. What encouraged you to take on such a task?
Dana and I were encouraged to found Amare Outreach after our first hand experiences of seeing those around us impacted by either mental illness or abuse - or both. There were so many brave individuals that were willing to come forward to share their stories that we were inspired to give them and others alike a platform. If they could inspire us, why couldn’t they inspire others with similar stories?
One of the goals of your non-profit is to use social media as way to encourage others. What are some daily ways you believe social media can be used for good?
Social media can have a negative impact on the self esteem of many teenagers because they feel as if they have to compare themselves to everyone else they see on social media. We like to introduce reality to social media; everyone has their own struggles. This way, not only can everyone have access to these stories to be inspired, but they hopefully have the sense that they are no longer alone and don’t need to compare themselves to others.
You are regularly working with people who have walked through tough places and are speaking to groups of students in the hopes of spreading awareness and empowering others to share their stories. What have you learned about yourself through doing this?
For me, I have learned that you can never judge a person just by looking at them from the outside. It can be easy to write someone off or disapprove of their behavior, but there is no way of knowing what demons someone is going home to every evening. Every person that you walk by has a story. So, be ready to cut everyone a little slack, and always make sure that they know that you’re someone they can reach out to.
If you could tell the world three things about mental illness and abuse, what would you say?
First, I would tell the world that if someone is experiencing one of these things, they have so many resources around them that are under advertised. By reaching out to a local government or organization, you would be surprised how many available resources there are for treatment of legal help.
Secondly, everyone should learn the signs of suicide, especially teachers. By learning the truths, myths, and behaviors of suicide, we can take proactive measures to prevent one of the leading causes of teen death.
Lastly, mental illness and abuse are not the fault of the person experiencing them. Mental illness is no different than any other medical condition, like breaking a leg. Similarly, being the subject of verbal, mental or physical abuse is in no way the fault of the person experiencing it, even though they may feel like it’s their fault. By helping people in abusive situations and those struggling with mental illness realize these truths, we can help them to take their first steps forward to getting help.
What advice would you give to someone who suspects that a friend is dealing with abuse or mental illness but doesn’t know what to do or how to approach such a sensitive topic?
I would tell the friend that though this will be an uncomfortable situation, it is so important to be able to have it. Don’t be pushy, but be straightforward and ready to listen. When he or she begins to open up, don’t be quick to judge, but be relaxed and understanding. If the friend reveals that he or she is putting themselves, or someone else is putting them in danger, you must get them help, even if they demand that you keep it a secret. Saving the friend is more important than saving the friendship.
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