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Suffolk University student launches non-profit to help manage stress

A college student in Boston has started a non-profit to help young people, like himself, manage stress. The idea came from a very personal struggle.

Noah Trofimow is a 22-year-old student at Suffolk University. Things are going well for Noah now, but he’s suffered from anxiety and depression and overcame a suicide attempt. “For a lot of people it’s their first time living on their own when they go to college or its their first time for a lot of experiences, relationships there are schools there are careers and it’s a very transitional period that can be pretty difficult,” Noah said.

To help other young people deal with anxiety and stress, Noah created a non-profit with a few friends while in lockdown. It’s called the Paper Bag Mask Foundation. The name is meant to symbolize people who have a mental illness that aren’t open to sharing it. “They hide it behind a fake smile or a mask and whether they try to avoid treatment or avoid being treated differently or maybe they want to, they don’t want to feel like a burden. a lot of people put on their fake smile and go about their day,” Noah said.

Their mission is to help empower young people by building confidence in themselves and their ability to cope with stress. They do that by hosting classes, like this exercise or art classes, around three pillars: physical activity, creativity and meditation. Noah says they’re all backed by research to help boost moods and alleviate stress. “So many people that are already in therapy or are on medication already have a treatment plan for anxiety or stress, they can use our classes as supplements to what they are already doing,” he said.

So far, the Paper Bag Mask Foundation has hosted more than 100 classes and has 40 more scheduled. All or free or at a reduced cost. It should be noted, the classes should not be used in place of seeking help from healthcare professionals.

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