Mental Health Awareness

Sheryl Lawrence, Austin TX

What I Did 

“Learn to share your food. You’re not fat; you’re curvy. Maybe you shouldn’t eat that. You’re too skinny. Maybe you should calm down. You need to cheer up a bit. Just smile and laugh more, that always helps. I feel like a can’t ever talk to you because you’re always in a bad mood. Don’t joke about depression. Are you okay?” These are all phrases that people have said to me as I struggled with mental health. It is something that would never wish on anyone else and something I know has to be talked about more in our society. 


During my high-school career, multiple students took their own lives. This made someone at my school take charge and he started the conversation about mental illness and the stigma around it on our campus. At the end of my sophomore year, he held an event called Light Up Depression. When first looking at the title, the message seems like the event is shining a light on depression, or even romanticizing it, but it was so much more than this. This event focused on a wide range of mental illnesses and gave a platform to those who were struggling. The event consisted of speakers, performers, and organizations that help those struggling with mental illness. In the middle of my junior year, he suddenly handed the event over to me. Within a matter of a month, I was able to gather speakers and performers, advertise, and figure out all the logistics. The amount of stress leading up to it and the amount of pressure to make sure everything went according to the plan was worth the outcome. 


In the end, the event brought people together toward a common goal of breaking the stigma against mental illness in our society. Events like this are incredibly important in our society today because if we do not talk about the problem, it is not going to be solved and people’s mindsets are not going to change.


Next Steps 


Hold a mental health awareness event on your high-school or college campus. In the end, all people want is a simple conversation, so that can be the extent of the event if you want it to be. You can contact me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you want/need advice for this.


Stand-up for what’s right! When you see or hear someone making fun of mental illness, call them out for it because it is not okay!


Check out project semicolon, and possibly donate or join the movement. Project Semicolon is an American nonprofit organization known for its advocacy of mental health wellness and its focus as an anti-suicide initiative. It is called project semicolon because a semicolon represents that the story is not over which in this sense means that your story and your life should and will continue.


Multiple organizations are reputable and I would suggest donating/volunteering with: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, STARRY, Austin Anxiety & OCD Specialists, National Alliance on Mental Illness

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