I am a charter school student, and I am also the co-founder of a nonprofit organization called End the Stigma. My organization works to end the stigma regarding teen mental health and mental illness. I am so passionate about raising awareness around this topic because I personally struggle with anxiety and depression. I travel around to different groups of boys and girls teaching about my story, how I manage my mental illness, and how to learn to love yourself. I also post daily affirmations, coping mechanisms, motivations, and quotes on our Instagram account where kids usually reach out to me via comments or direct messages. One of the main aspects of our website is our #NoFilter stories, like my mental health story video. Our goal is to gather more stories from teens so that others can read these stories and realize that they are not alone. You can read about our logo, read our stories, donate, and learn how to join our movement at https://endthestigma.org/.
I am a senior here at Nevada State High School, and the most important factor when balancing my school work and foundation is not procrastinating any of my work. Time is precious to me, so if I get my schoolwork done in an efficient manner, I have the rest of the week to focus on what I’m passionate about, which is working with End the Stigma. Whether I am teaching, helping others through their own journeys, or just being an advocate for mental illness in general, it feels right. I firmly believe this is my calling or purpose in life. My motto is that you have to grow through what you go through. If I had to struggle so severely with mental illness, why not get something out of it by helping others? I have worked to turn around my own pain into this foundation. I am currently working on an End the Stigma event for next spring as well as starting my own personal podcast. I want to continue to pursue this as a career, whether that is as a psychology major, therapist, motivational speaker, author, etc.
To anyone struggling with mental illness themselves, you are not alone. Your mental illness does not define you. Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, you will be okay and you will not be in pain forever. There is hope and there is light. There is no shame in seeking help. Talk to someone. Reach out. It’s a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Don’t let the stigma bring you down. More people than you think suffer with mental health — approximately one in four people. You never know who is struggling just as much, so keep that in mind and be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who is fighting a battle inside their head and putting on a face to the world. Try not to envy anyone’s life because you have no idea what they have gone through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. It’s called the invisible illness for a reason.