I’m proud to be able to call myself an activist. It’s not for lack of other people trying to stop me, really. I’ve even had a therapist try to stop me from being an activist. But I’ve powered through all that. And now I’m trying to speak out. Part of this shift to advocacy has been a result of going to various mental health events––the first of which was TeenzTalk’s Teen Wellness Conference in September 2017.
I was super excited to go to my first event, and I’m really glad I went. It was close to home, and my mind was a little blown by how many people were there. I’ve been told on multiple occasions that mental health activism doesn’t exist and that I shouldn’t pursue it; I was thrilled to be proven wrong at the conference, seeing many youth activists all gathered in one place.
For one, the speakers at the Teen Wellness Conference were amazing. It meant a lot to me that they were high-schoolers, like myself. It was inspiring to see people close-in-age to me taking strides in mental health advocacy.
I loved getting to hear my peers at the conference share their stories, being reminded that no matter the strange experiences I’ve been through, someone else has probably been there too. I’ve also learned that connection makes all the difference. I had the opportunity to meet leaders of Children Health Council’s (CHC) Teen Wellness Committee, which I’ve since joined and will be working with this year.
The high point of the conference for me was getting to share my story with so many other people, many of whom had been through similar experiences. The Teen Wellness Conference breakout-sessions provided the ideal safe space for opening up and sharing. I thought when I was going through some weird situations that there was no way it had happened to anyone else, but it turns out that I’m not alone.
I actually ended up meeting other people at the conference and on CHC’s teen committee who I know will be my friends for a long time. I'm an activist because I want to leave the world in a better shape than it was when I found it. Sharing my story is difficult, for sure, but it’s rewarding as well, especially when I find people to connect with as a result.
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