New space to support well-being, mental health of teens open in Squirrel Hill

PITTSBURGH — A new space is open in the area to help break the stigma over mental health in teenagers. 

The Beacon on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill opened its doors this week. The facility is more than a year in the making and teenagers played a huge part in planning and designing how best to help other teens.

Launched by Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, the design of the facility was very intentional. Its focus is to support and uplift the well-being and mental health of area teenagers.

“When you come to the Beacon, you’re coming in with intention. You’re coming in to check with yourself to be mindful and understand how you’re feeling,” said Friendship Circle Director Rivkee Rudolph.

Teenagers helped in the planning and design of the Beacon.

“As you walk in the space you will see all the physical elements in the space,” Rudolph. “We are designed to really come around ourselves and get into that mindfulness mode.”

The space features several programs with more to come, along with a kitchen, a room for podcasts, a conversation corner and a common space. A sensory room is coming in August.

“Teens have a lot, they have a lot going on,” Rivkee said. “There’s so much opportunity for connection and support and The Beacon will be a space where you can come and find that support.”

Alderdice High School students Abby Blank and Maya Zimmerman were two of the teens on The Beacon planning committee. Both said the pandemic was so hard on kids their age.

“The toll that my mental health took was great,” Blank said.

“I think to some extent every single teen is suffering in silence. It’s not a new idea that teens feel unheard and unseen, but the pandemic really exacerbated it and teens are just suffering,” Zimmerman said. “It feels like an epidemic of mental health.”

Blank and Zimmerman both added The Beacon is the safe space all teens need to feel heard and stay well.

“Teens feel best when they’re connected and they can build those personal relationships. And this is so instrumental for teens to be able to find an outlet where they can be themselves and connect and actually form meaningful relationships,” Zimmerman said.

Blank stressed the intention of The Beacon is for teens to come at any point in their mental health journey.

“Knowing you can just come in here as you are after a rough day at school or to celebrate an achievement. I think it’s important to mention this is not just a space for you coming at your worst.  It’s also a space to come at your best,” Blank said. “The Beacon is one of the most incredible things to come out of the pandemic, and I think the community will only get stronger from here.”

The Beacon is open to all teenagers in the area.

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