If you asked us 20 years ago if we could solve the world’s problems from the palm of our hands, we probably would have walked away and scoffed in our gorgeously graffitied Converses. Today, smartphones are changing the way we do everything — from apps for pet parents to finding our OTP — giving social innovators like Jasper Faolan all the tools they need to literally save lives. A writer, entrepreneur and psychiatric nurse practitioner, Jasper saw the mental health problems that young women in America face firsthand. Five years ago in her sister’s kitchen, she had an idea to create a forever free online mental health therapy program geared towards young women in crisis. Her program is already changing lives.
Jasper is no stranger to the struggle that many young people are too afraid to talk about. With a past filled with adolescent horrors like bullying, an eating disorder and rape, Jasper coped with her trauma by writing down her experiences — 80 times, to be exact — in an effort to take herself from a place of victimization to a narrative of control and empowerment. “Writing really saved my life,” says Jasper. “My initial response to my trauma was to go inside a personal cave — to not have an identity. If I had stayed there and never spoken out, I would have remained a shell.”
After publishing her emotional adolescent memoir, A Raw Hummingbird, Jasper started to look for ways to help young women like herself get the mental health support they need. 62 percent of Americans struggling with mental illness do not have access to treatment, according to a study by SAMSHA, leaving a large gap in available mental health services for most young girls. With a heart for a mental health revolution and an idea burning in her mind, Jasper had all the necessary ingredients to make free mental health therapy a reality.
Five years later, A Journal to Save Your Live (J2SYL) is ready for its first students. Each therapy program consists of a one to 52 week online program for young women around the ages of 13 to 29. The program is carefully curated around specific personal struggles, from addiction and body image to toxic relationships. With a concrete foundation from psychology scholars, the program aims to help young women build social skills, reframe negative thoughts and inspire artistic expression in an effort to promote self-love and healing.
J2SYL is all about empowering young women to conquer their fears through the power of creation with weekly assignments like writing, making music and creating visual art. Knowing that many of their participants are dealing with extreme situations, J2SYL installed a safety program too. Their J2ROBOT anonymously scans all texts looking for homicidal, suicidal or self-harming thoughts and will contact their on-call professionals and the individual’s safety contacts to step in during an emergency.
Jasper’s story and #girlboss initiative is a great reminder for us all to take a break from our hectic lives and show some love to the people around us. Whether that means a well-timed hug, an open invitation to talk or a link to a journal that could quite literally save a life, it’s never too late to reach out to those you care about.
Photos via Getty.