Norfolk non-profit founder fights mental health stigmas

Dorian Hollingsworth Jr. was a sophomore at a New York high school when he realized the importance of educating people about mental health.

One morning in 2018, before he and his mother moved to Norfolk, he spoke to his best friend on the phone. He noticed that the tone of her voice changed.

“Hey, something’s going on,” Hollingsworth recalls his friend saying, “like the vibe at her school was different that day.”

A student committed suicide.

Hollingsworth, now 21, did not know the student, but the episode led to the creation of the Teen Care Network, which earned Hollingsworth a McDonald’s 2023 Black and Positively Golden Change Leader honor. On Sunday, he will use the $20,000 prize to keep the “Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience” at the center, in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Teen Care Network connects teens with mental health resources, promotes positive thinking, and teaches therapeutic coping techniques through social media.

“Our mission is a mission of love,” says Hollingsworth, who plans to study psychology at Old Dominion University in the fall. “To bridge the gap between people in need and the resources they need so we can have healthy conversations about mental health.”

The ‘Awakening Humanity: Paint & Flow Experience’ is a guided painting experience open to anyone 13 years and older and is intended as a time to ‘take a moment’, breathe, relax, practice mindfulness and promote healthy thinking and living through the creative process.

He said news of the 2018 suicide threw his psyche into emotional turmoil. He then wondered if there were people who could have intervened or if there were places someone his own age could go for help.

Hollingsworth informally founded the network that year and continued his work after he and his mother moved to Norfolk. He graduated from Granby High School in 2020 and last year Hollingsworth sought and achieved nonprofit status for Teen Care Network, he said.

The group posts mental health tips and resource guides on social media for teens to view as they scroll through their favorite platforms.

“Just like on TikTok,” Hollingsworth said, “it might be a dance video, but the video overlay has some tips on positive workouts for your mental health or positive meditation tips.”

Teen Care Network often posts images of people working, being and enjoying each other in harmony.

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“We love love-spreading images and messages of love and connection and understanding.”

Colin Warren-Hicks, 919-818-8139, [email protected]


When: Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m

Where: Event space at 253 Monticello Ave., Norfolk

Tickets: $20 per person or $25 for two people


Norfolk non-profit founder fights mental health stigmas

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