It's a positively heartbreaking situation: Syrian refugees are arriving in Greece by the boatload — quite literally. If they survive the first part of the journey, they can then face hundreds of miles of walking to reach their next destination.

If you watch the news footage, you may notice something:


There are lots of Syrian moms, dads, and caregivers with babies.

After crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey, a Syrian couple holds their twin babies on the Greek island of Lesbos. Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP/Getty Images.

Babies too young to walk.

A Syrian mother, holding her one-month-old son after arriving in Lesbos from Turkey. Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP/Getty Images.

Babies that must be carried...

Remaining images in this article are via "Today."

...and carried. Despite cold and exhaustion.

California mom Cristal Logothetis noticed. After she saw the viral photo of the young Syrian boy who drowned as his family was trying to reach safety, she — like so many of us — was deeply moved.

"When I saw that picture, I didn't just see a little boy face-down on the sand," Logothetis told "Today." "I saw what could have been my son."

Logothetis and her son.

When we're so overwhelmed with emotion, it's easy to feel paralyzed. What can I possibly do in the face of so much tragedy?

So much! We can do so much.

Logothetis wasn't just moved emotionally; she was moved to do something. "It compelled me into action," she said. And action is what she took.

Logothetis started to collect baby carriers* to deliver to the Syrian families arriving in Greece with babies and young children.

*You know, those things we Americans like to use for convenience to keep our hands free or bonding with our babies, often referring to the practice as baby-wearing.

At first, she didn't think her plans would go very far. But she was wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

Tons of people were more than happy to help. In fact, they were honored to do so, with many attaching notes of encouragement and love to the donated carriers.

In addition to receiving donated carriers, Logothetis collected tens of thousands of dollars to purchase them.

After Logothetis had collected enough carriers to make a difference, she and 10 other moms headed to Greece.

There, they met families coming off boats and taught the moms and dads how to use the donated carriers.

One of the volunteers helping a family learn to use their new carrier. GIF by "Today."

Perhaps nearly as significant to the refugee families as the actual physical help is the simple knowledge that people care.

"All they're trying to do is get to a better place and protect their family," Logothetis said. "Not only do they have a problem solved for them by receiving a carrier, but they realize that people care about them, that people want to help."

One thing is for sure: A whole lot of people want to help.

"People out there, they really care. They do. They just need the right opportunity to get involved," Logothetis said. "If everybody does something, no matter how small or big, there will always be a positive impact on this planet."

It's easy to feel overwhelmed in moments of crisis. Sometimes, though, it's just a matter of looking in the right place.

As beloved TV personality Mister Rogers said: "Whenever there would be any catastrophe ... [my mom] would say, 'Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers.' ... Because if you look for the helpers, you'll know that there's hope."

Well, we're looking at the helpers. And that means there's hope.

If you're interested in helping supply carriers for Syrian refugee families, you can visit the Carry the Future Facebook page to learn more about where to send your gently used carrier (or where to donate money).

And there are so many other easy ways to help! You can visit this page to find other organizations who are helping refugees and need support.

Watch the helpers from Carry the Future in this wonderful "Today" feature:

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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