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Help us develop programs connecting adolescents to nature!

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Help us develop programs connecting adolescents to nature!

Help us develop programs connecting adolescents to nature!

About Us

The Chris Center, Inc. offers an innovative approach to teen wellness by connecting adolescents to nature and providing opportunities for human-animal interaction. We recognize that many teenagers in central Indiana are struggling with their mental and emotional well-being, and we strive to be part of the solution. Our programs are based on research demonstrating the health and wellness benefits of interacting with animals and nature. These benefits include improved self-esteem and mood, increased social interaction, and decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression. T

Many factors contribute to an adolescent’s risk of developing mental health conditions, including the following: exploration of identity, peer pressure, quality and stability of home life, exposure to trauma or violence, substance abuse, poverty, and social media influence. Adolescents at greatest risk of mental illness include members of minority racial or ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those with developmental or intellectual disabilities, individuals living with chronic illness, and socioeconomically disadvantaged youth.

National and state governmental health data demonstrate the need for increased support of adolescent wellness. According to the CDC’s 2019 (pre-pandemic) data on US high school students: greater than 1 in 3 high school students have experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, approximately 1 in 5 students have seriously considered suicide, and almost 1 in 10 has attempted suicide. Moreover, the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic have profoundly worsened the state of adolescent mental health with increased rates of anxiety, depression, and intentional self-harm. According to FAIR Health, in 2021 mental health claims among teens doubled during the pandemic.

Additional resources to support the mental and emotional well-being of adolescents in Indiana are urgently needed. Unfortunately, Indiana ranks in the bottom one-third of US states in terms of adolescent mental health due to a high prevalence of mental illness and poor access to mental health care (SAMHSA 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer, Indiana). The Chris Center programs are an accessible, affordable, and innovative option available to adolescents in addition to traditional forms of professional mental health treatment.