Today we’d like to introduce you to Tina Meier.
Hi Tina, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Before the Megan Meier Foundation, my life was pretty traditional.
I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, and got married shortly after high school. My first child, Megan, was born in November 1992, and my second daughter, Allison, was born in May 1996. I raised my daughters and worked as a real estate agent. Like most families, we had our struggles, but for the most part, things were good.
Everything changed on October 16, 2006, when my then 13-year-old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life after being cruelly cyberbullied by an adult neighbor posing as a fictitious boy on MySpace.
From there, I made it my mission to help prevent such tragedies and to support children and families affected by bullying and cyberbullying. In December of 2007, I founded the Megan Meier Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Since its inception, MMF has grown into a global bullying and cyberbullying prevention foundation.
Through education, prevention, and intervention we work tirelessly to fulfill our mission to support and inspire actions to end bullying, cyberbullying and suicide. We believe that through educating and empowering our society to celebrate individuality and acceptance, we can work together to make a difference and create a safer and kinder world.
Each year, I travel throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in today’s world to students, educators, parents, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Since 2008, the Megan Meier Foundation has provided over 1400 presentations and community outreach events throughout the country.
Our services include presentations, leadership workshops, resources, and counseling. These programs have reached more than 550,000 students, parents, and educators.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The Megan Meier Foundation empowers our communities to celebrate individuality and the acceptance of others and to create a safer, kinder world. Working towards this vision has required a great deal of patience, determination, and resilience.
There is so much need for our programs, but we are often limited by funding. Covid-19 also caused some unique challenges for our organization, as many of our services are provided within schools.
When schools closed and classes were conducted virtually, many students were not able to receive the services they would have otherwise received in school. It is absolutely vital that we continue to support the mental health of youth because mental health concerns are only growing.
In 2019, the CDC reported that the suicide rate among youth aged 10-24 increased by 56% between 2007-2017. This number is even greater for Black/African-American students with suicide attempts increasing by 73%. The suicide rate in Missouri is 31% higher than the national average. Research suggests that barriers to service and stigma are two of the biggest limiting factor in getting these kids help, especially for communities of color.
The CDC recommends increasing access to in-school mental health services and programs that could provide a vital lifeline – a lifeline MMF provides with our programs. The increased availability of mental health services in schools not only increases the accessibility of care but also reduces the stigma of seeking mental health care.
Youth are 21 times more likely to make a mental health visit to a school-based provider than to a community site. During the pandemic, we did our best to reach these children by providing virtual counseling sessions.
According to the CDC, Youth from low-income households is at increased risk for mental health disorders. Of these low-income youth, 57% come from households with incomes at or below the federal poverty level. Lack of health insurance is the most significant barrier to medical care.
We believe that removing barriers to service and increasing access to mental health support will help youth grow up to be happy, fulfilled adults who achieve their full potential, which is why we provide our services free of charge. Naturally, there is a lot of demand for these free services, and we rely on our strong network of generous donors to help these children.
There is more need out there than we are currently able to serve, so we are always looking to meet people who are passionate about the mission and willing to help.
When youth receive the support and resources they need to develop healthy coping skills, improve their levels of functioning, and reduce suicidality, they face their futures healthier and more resilient.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Ultimately, what we want for the youth we serve is what all parents want for their children – for them to grow up to be happy, fulfilled adults who achieve their full potential. We want them to have the courage to advocate for change, and the resilience and healthy coping skills needed to overcome the obstacles they encounter in life.
Through education, prevention, intervention, and support each of our programs works in unison as we fulfill our mission to support and inspire actions to end bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide.
MMF works to build positive concepts of civic-mindedness and upstander behavior through education and leadership.
The Megan Meier Foundation provides educational presentations and leadership workshops that teach youth to demonstrate tolerance and empathy, develop leadership skills, and become positive agents of change. These programs encourage youth to take a proactive approach to affect change through creating an actionable plan.
MMF provides mental health counseling services, using evidence-based practices performed by licensed professionals, to youth coping with a variety of behavioral health issues. In order to increase access and participation, especially in marginalized communities, we provide this service free of charge, without requiring insurance, within the school or virtual setting to ensure transportation does not limit access.
In addition to counseling services, our Counseling & Support Center provides meaningful support and resources to youth and families coping with a variety of behavioral health issues including depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, bullying-related trauma, anxiety, and lack of self-esteem.
Through mediation, validation, advocacy, and therapeutic care, our program has been able to promote resiliency and recovery and improve the lives of the youth in our community.
At the time of Megan’s death, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. I worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.
Representing the mission of the Foundation, I appeared nationally and internationally on a large variety of network television stations, news magazines, and syndicated talk shows speaking about the issues of bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide.
I also served as a consultant for the 2011 ABC Family movie, “Cyberbu//y”, and appeared in several documentaries, including Discovery ID’s “Web of Lies” and the story of Lizzie Velasquez’s “A Brave Heart.” I was a featured speaker for TEDxBEND 2016 in Oregon.
So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
Through the Megan Meier Foundation, we welcome all diverse perspectives, collaboration, and funding opportunities in pursuit of supporting children.
We are always looking for passionate individuals and corporations that want to make a difference in the lives of our youth. You can support Megan’s legacy and the mission of the Megan Meier Foundation through donations or program sponsorships or through committed, active engagement in the work we do.
We are also looking to expand our Board of Directors and welcome anyone who is interested in making a difference to reach out. You can read more about our organization and opportunities to get involved on our website here: www.meganmeierfoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Our programs are provided for free. The following donation levels help support our services.
- $100 Family and Youth Support
- $1,000 Short-Term Youth Counseling Care
- $2,000 Long-Term Youth Counseling Care
- $2,500 Youth School-Based Counseling Care
- Website: www.meganmeierfoundation.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meganmeierfoundation/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meganmeierfoundation
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/meganmeierfndn