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Interview: To Write Love On Her Arms

Posted: August 10, 2016 | General | featured | 0 Comments

Our Warped Tour Correspondent, Kamna Talwar, recently spoke with Casey O’Neill about the organization he works with, To Write Love On Her Arms. This is the nonprofit’s 10th year at Warped Tour.

 

Kamna: What is your name and what do you do for TWLOHA?

Casey: My name is Casey O’Neill. I’m one of the Warped Tour representatives this summer. I’ve been with the organization for almost about a year now in differing roles. August 2015 I was an intern. I was a part of the internship program, and I did that from August until December. During that down-time I was kind of off, then I came back in May. I started working other festivals, and now I’m here.

 

Kamna: For those who may be unfamiliar, what is TWLOHA?

Casey: Our mission is to present hope and help to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. So by coming here today at Warped Tour, we’re able to hand out information. We have local and national resources, whether that be a crisis hotline number or a list of counseling centers, treatment centers – all free information we can give out to people. We ourselves are not professional mental health counselors, but we do work hand-in-hand with those professionals to ensure that people get the help they need and the help that they deserve.

 

Kamna: So what are you doing on Warped Tour?

Casey: Warped Tour has been a big part of who we have been and who we are as an organization. We just celebrated 10 years as a non-profit. We’ve been on Vans Warped Tour ever since. We come here today because we know this is a younger demographic, for the most part, and music is a big part of how our story was first told in 2006. So we relate a lot to the music scene. I’m really glad that we’re here today because we do have these conversations with a younger audience, an audience that struggles a lot. Nowadays, in 2016, I’ve talked to a lot of people. Even parents who talk about their children being cyber-bullied with the advancement of technology. That all leads to mental health concerns. That’s just one example, but we have a big audience here that struggles. Struggles with anything from depression, addiction, anything that we cover in the mental health field. So we’re able to reach out to those individuals, get the information into their hands, really talk with them, let them know through our hopeful tone that it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to have these struggles. We’re here to let you know that if you are feeling that way, the best thing you can do is to get you into a professional mental health service – whether that be counseling, even medication. Medication is a heavily stigmatized thing when it comes to mental health, but it does help. With the advancement of technology, people are able to manage their mental illnesses better thanks to medication.

 

Kamna: Aside from Warped Tour, what other music-related events or festivals do you participate in?
Casey: We actually have a specific person who does that. His name is Jack. He works at our office. He’s been doing it so long for us, and he’s been incredible. We go to other music festivals. Just some big names to throw at the top of the list are Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Firefly in Delaware. The summer is a very busy time for us. Obviously we do festivals such as that, then we’re on the entire Warped Tour all summer. It’s not just summer festivals that we’re at. Obviously, with winter it kind of makes it hard to have these festivals. Our founder Jamie [Tworkowski] speaks at various colleges throughout the year and various town centers, anybody who wants to bring Jamie in. It’s not just Jamie. We have a few other mental health counselors. We have what’s called a MOVE Conference that’s held amongst two days. It’s held by two trusted, professional mental health counselors that work with us directly. What’s great about that is that [MOVE] can be brought to any city. There’s obviously funding and there’s some fees involved. For instance, when I was an intern, they had it in Nashville. So that was just one city, for example, that it was brought to. It’s really cool because it’s about the community. So it gets people involved in the local community that may not be as aware as to how serious the topic of mental health is. Obviously, [having] two mental health professionals able talk about it is really unique.

 

Kamna: How have you seen the perception of tobacco use change in the past 5-10 years?

Casey: I don’t know if I can speak for the organization… I went to the University of Central Florida for a little bit. While I was there, they installed a no-smoking policy on their campus. I know that’s just one example. But I would love to see something like that on more college campuses. I myself am not a smoker, and I am very much in favor of anti-tobacco. Something like that is kind of hard to enforce, but I think the fact that they took the step into doing it is monumental.

 

Kamna: Does TWLOHA have a stance on tobacco use or the tobacco industry?

Casey: We’re really in the business of helping those who battle addiction, and I guess you can say tobacco falls in the category of addiction… So I guess the fact that we work with those who are struggling with addiction, you can put tobacco in the category of addiction.

 

Kamna: Do you have any tips on quitting?

Casey: Check out our website and see if there’s any national resources [or] local resources in your area. Preventative tips. It’s been something in my family that I’ve had a few family members struggle with. I know it’s not easy, so making yourself responsible. If you’re going to say, “I’m going to wean myself off.” I don’t know a whole lot about the patches or various other preventative methods, so I can’t really speak for those as well. I guess just making a plan and holding yourself accountable and having maybe a family member check on you or a friend, stuff like that.

 

Kamna: Do you have anything else to add?
Casey: We are so thankful to be here on Vans Warped Tour. We get to hear from so many people from different walks of life open up to us, maybe about stuff that they’ve never shared with anybody before in their lives. Being behind this booth holds a true power, in my opinion – a power that I can use to talk with these people and ensure that when they leave our tent they feel as if they can ask for that help that maybe society has once told them that they can’t ask for. We’re looking to help change that conversation and make it a more open dialogue. It’s just been very special, I’m really glad to be a part of it. For those who are listening in and paying attention to what you guys are doing in Virginia, I guess just check out our website [TWLOHA.com]. We’re on most social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If they want to learn more about us, that’d be one of the best ways to do

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