OLA of Eastern Long Island provides youth access to help with mental, emotional health

A Latino-focused advocacy group on the East End is helping students going through a mental health crisis or other issues.
The Latino Advocacy Organization (OLA) of Eastern Long Island created an opportunity for any youth from all five eastern towns to discuss their concerns regarding emotional and mental health access.
The youth summit started with a small group in August but is now thriving.
For Karen Huachisaca, 26, who participated in the group's most recent youth connect meeting, the engagement was groundbreaking.
"Parents were really engaged and so were we," Huachisaca says. "It was really an emotional moment, but it was also really like informative."
Huachisaca says the most effective process was when teams of youth leaders guided parents through role play exercises.
As a teen, she says it can be hard to communicate with parents because you don't really understand what's going on with yourself.
Huachisaca says the group discusses problems in teens' lives like eating disorders and depression.
"It's really a big factor in a teen's life and it really affects us sometimes," Huachisaca says.
Just before the school year started, OLA of Eastern Long Island and its students launched a youth connect line where students can email or text a youth crisis counselor to share things they are going through.
"A lot of kids feel alone or isolated or feel that they are the only ones going through what they're going through," says Faith Evans, a youth crisis counselor for the organization.
Over 30 parents attended the latest parents conference with seven youth leaders.