2017 Essay and Multimedia Contest Art Winner

Stigma and Benefits of Treatment

“With people all around me, I still feel alone. In a world filled with laughter, I’m empty and gray. I wish someone would notice how I feel. I hear all about the statistics and that 11% of teens struggle with depression but I still feel so alone. I don’t even think about discussing the way I feel with anyone because of the huge stigma.”

“I began having problems with anxiety and depression in middle school. I didn’t reach out for help and I had to teach myself to cope. I don’t want anyone else to go through that. This is why I joined the MHANS Youth Advisory Board”.

“Being diagnosed and treated in the middle of my elementary school career created a drastic change in the way people viewed me. I went from a “stay away from her kid to a “that girl is so smart kid”.

How Schools Can Help

 “I love school, but there are days where I step through its door with heavy feet and a head hung low as the stress eats away at my sanity. It would help if my teachers knew the myriad lives I live: straight-A student, the star of the sports team, the president of whatever club, the student who helps her family when she’s out of school, who puts on the veneer of happiness”

“I would be extremely grateful if my teachers understood that my mental state is not a result of my teenage angst and hormones, but an illness I face every day which leaves me with false beliefs about the work around me. I am not asking for them to look at me as if I am made of glass and can break at any moment. I just wish for them to understand that the reason for me not doing homework or avoiding class participation is not out of disinterest, but because of terror and numbness”.

“I wish my teachers knew that sometimes I just can’t get myself to do anything when I feel so hopeless. It gets to a point where I’m thinking, what can I do to get out of school, how can I fake sick, how can I break a bone, how can I make myself throw up…” Missing one day of school to simply make up on the sleepless nights of schoolwork is like missing an eternity. I call this my spiral. My emotions spiral in circles until I can no longer control what is making me upset”.

Dealing with Stress

“The pressure of being a superhuman: an amazing student, an amazing daughter/son, an amazing sportsman and citizen, can feel like a hard at our throats that with each day clenches tighter and tighter until one day we are choking and gasping for breath. We don’t smile because we’re happy, we smile because we hope that if we pretend everything’s okay, we’ll believe it, even if we’re drowning within a sea of stress.”

“While it is very easy to become caught up in your own stress, it is very important to recognize what you can do to increase your mental health. Even while wading through the stressful mess that life can be, I stay mentally healthy by paying attention to me”.

“When a stressful event hits me at school, I deal with it. Sometimes, when things become too much, I seek out the people in my support network and find a solution with help. After finally learning to deal with the stressors from school, I love going each morning and plan to become a teacher myself, continuing to stay healthy in school”.