In 2013, the now 20-year-old, Gabby Frost wanted to help prevent suicide and self-harm. So, she founded Buddy Project.
The nonprofit peer support system helps to counteract negativity and bullying so common on social media. Geared towards children and young adults, the Buddy Project offers positive companionship, resources, and even education to those struggling with mental illness or just in need of support.
With tens of millions of people affected by mental illness in the United States alone each year, only about half receive the needed treatment according to the National Institue of Mental Health. Although Buddy Project is not a substitute for therapy or other mental health care tactics, it can help direct people to these resources to further help their recovery.
Since the website’s founding, Frost has helped over 200,000 individuals find a new friend. On its initial launch day, Frost used her social media presence to bring almost 3,000 people to her newly created site.
The Creator of Buddy Project Answers Questions in an Interview from HuffPost
In the interview, Frost says that when she created Buddy Project, her best friend had been diagnosed with a mental health condition. This was the first time that she was aware of what precisely mental illness was. Wanting to learn more and become a good support system for her friend, she started up her project.
Frost then shared how Buddies are paired up including any guidelines or restrictions for this process. Buddies are paired together depending on one of five interests they chose on the sign-up form. Their age is taken into account, so the age gap isn’t too large between potential Buddies. And although the target demographic is 13 to 21, the 21-plus demographic has grown in recent times.
Once matched, Buddies can communicate through Twitter or Instagram. Some have exchanged numbers or even met up in person or video chat. It’s up to the individuals what they do after meeting their Buddy. It lets people take things at their own pace.
Frost was in ninth grade when she started the Buddy Project. She figured it would be something she would do on the side and that it wouldn’t get too much interest. But when those first 3,000 signed up, she realized it was more than she had ever anticipated.
However, like all great things, Buddy Project has evolved over the years to reach farther than ever. It started as a way to raise awareness for mental health via social media. After becoming a nonprofit, Buddy Project has fundraising project to help pay for mental health treatments. The focus has been mainly for those in their Pennsylvania hometown, but the hope is that this financial support can help expand through the country.