Continue physical distancing while you virtually connect to stay social! Find out how you can connect with other people your age through Please Pass the Love.

In response to COVID-19, Please Pass the Love (PPTL), one of United Way of Central Iowa’s funded partners focusing on helping school communities embrace and sustain mental health resources and support for students of all ages, has created a response campaign called Storms Don't Last Forever #SDLF with some online programming and resources for youth and educators.

“The mental health impact is going to far outlast the coronavirus,” said Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D. and Executive Director of Please Pass the Love. “We know that prevention and being able to get young people connected with their families and educators as quickly as possible is critical to helping improve mental health outcomes. The Please Pass the Love Slack group is a way for our young people to get and stay connected with other people their age, share ideas on how they are navigating their current environment and allowing them to express how they feel in a safe space.”

The Please Pass the Love Slack group is one online relief program option and it allows young people to meet, talk with, and be lifted up by other young people. PPTL Youth moderators lead the group, while being supervised by adults, to allow people to share what they’re reading, what they’re doing at home, and how they’re handling this new at-home lifestyle. “The cool part is every time a young person joins the platform, they’re welcomed by one of our youth moderators who gives them a personal hello and is ready to answer their questions,” said Jennifer. “It’s a way for them to have fun in a safe space created by young people for young people. Cats, dogs, and tacos welcome.”

Aside from the youth Slack group there are a variety of other online mental health relief opportunities for people, from pre-school students to adults:

Elementary School Program
Books & Buddies
Tuesdays and Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Bring your favorite stuffed animal and listen to Emmalee read crowd-favorite stories.

Middle School Program
MS Meet Up
Mondays and Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
Stuck at home and want someone to talk with? Come hang out and talk, ask questions, and check-in with other middle school students. We’re all trying to figure out how to manage and embrace this new way of life – let’s do it together!

High School Program
HS Meet Up
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.
Stuck at home and want someone to talk with? Come hang out and talk, ask questions, and check-in with other high school students. We’re all trying to figure out how to manage and embrace this new way of life – let’s do it together!

In addition to the youth mental health relief programming available through Please Pass the Love, the organization also has opportunities for adults who would have regularly met and worked with the young people in our community. If you are an educator, administrator, school counselor, or work with kids in another capacity, consider joining one of the adult slack groups:

Coffee Chat Discussions
Wednesday, April 8, at 9:30 a.m.
These online sessions will allow participants to discuss some of the critical components to remember in protecting the social emotional health of our youth and emerging issues, with time for Q & A.

Power Learning: Free Webinars with Dr. Jennifer Ulie-Wells
Fridays at 1 p.m.
April 3: Covid-19 and Suicide Risk
April 10: Protecting Student Social-Emotional Health from Afar
Supporting the mental health of our Central Iowa students is critical right now. We encourage you to continue to check in on the young people in your life.

If you are working with a young person who may need support or is considering suicide, please send them the suicide crisis chat:

Please Pass the Love offers these programs to remind people that no one is alone, and that “Storms Don’t Last Forever” – and neither will this unique situation we’re facing. Connect with others using the hashtag #SDLF (Storms Don’t Last Forever) to share how you’re doing, what you’re doing, and to ask for support when you need it.

“The storm may not last forever, but we really appreciate people’s support for the long haul,” said Jennifer. “Once the dust settles, we’ll be faced with the post-traumatic stress from the new, and potentially negative, experiences people are going through. We will continue to need that ongoing support for mental health resources.”

At United Way, we believe in building a system of support that promotes positive relationships, trauma-informed environments, and access to services throughout a person’s life. We’re fighting for improved mental health support, because it can ultimately improve the success of every individual in our community. Once legislation is back in session, we encourage you to join us by advocating for increased funding to build a stronger mental healthcare system in Iowa.

Learn what you can do right now to support Please Pass The Love; visit the website at

TAGS: Health, UWCI Partner, Mental Health

Erin Drinnin

About The Author: Erin Drinnin

Erin Drinnin is United Way's Community Impact Officer for Health.