Norfolk nonprofit founder combats stigmas surrounding mental health
Dorian Hollingsworth Jr. was a sophomore in a New York high school when he realized the importance of teaching people about mental health.
One morning in 2018, before he and his mom moved to Norfolk, he was talking to his best friend on the phone. He noticed the tone of her voice change.
“Hey, there’s something going on,” Hollingsworth remembers his friend saying, “like the atmosphere was different in her school that day.”
A student had committed suicide.
Hollingsworth, now 21, didn’t know the student but the episode led to his founding the Teen Care Network, which garnered Hollingsworth a McDonald’s 2023 Black and Positively Golden Change Leader honor. Sunday, he’ll use the $20,000 award to hold the “Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience,” downtown, in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The Teen Care Network connects teens with mental health resources, promotes positive thinking and teaches therapeutic coping techniques via social media.
“Ours is a mission of love,” said Hollingsworth, who plans to study psychology at Old Dominion University in the fall. “To bridge the gap between people in need and the resources they need so that we can create healthy conversations surrounding mental health.”
The “Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience,” is a guided painting experience open to anyone 13 and older and is meant to be a time to “take a moment,” breathe, relax, practice mindfulness and promote healthy thinking and living through the creative process.
He said the news about the suicide in 2018 threw his psyche into emotional turmoil. He wondered then if there were people who could have intervened or if there were places someone his own age could go for help.
Hollingsworth informally founded the network that year and continued his work after he and his mom moved to Norfolk. He graduated from Granby High School in 2020, and last year, Hollingsworth sought and achieved nonprofit status for Teen Care Network, he said.
The group posts mental health tips and resource guides to social media that teenagers can watch while scrolling through their preferred platforms.
“Like on TikTok,” Hollingsworth said, “it might be a dancing video, but the video overlay has some tips on positive workouts for your mental health or positive meditation tips.”
Teen Care Network often posts images of people working, being and enjoying each other in harmony.
Check out the latest entertainment and arts news, then plan your weekend with a look ahead at what’s happening around Hampton Roads.
“We like love-spreading images and messages of love and connection and understanding.”
Colin Warren-Hicks, 919-818-8139, [email protected]
When: 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Event space at 253 Monticello Ave., Norfolk
Tickets: $20 a person or $25 for two people