1. When did you first join CHC’s Teen Wellness Committee (TWC)? Why did you decide to join?
I first joined CHC’s Teen Wellness Committee in the fall of 2017. I joined after having witnessed the effects of mental illness, as I watched it develop in my own friends. After experiencing this, I became interested in learning more about these issues but also in helping to advocate for and help be the voice of these teens.
2. What happens in a typical CHC TWC Meeting? What do you enjoy most about the meetings?
I love that the people in the committee are all equally excited by the topics we aim to advocate for; nowhere else have I seen such a large group of teens with so much positive energy devoted towards this topic. I also greatly appreciate that it is a safe space for students to express their feelings and have their voices heard.
3. Can you describe some of the projects you have worked on while serving on the CHC TWC?
During these past months that I have been with CHC's TWC, we’ve written a book that tells the story of mental health through the eyes of teens, with their own thoughts, in their own words.
4. Why is the book Just a Thought: Uncensored Narratives on Teen Mental Health important for our community?
I believe that this book will help people outside of the teen population understand what teen mental health looks like from our perspective. I also think that these brutally honest opinions and stories do an incredible job of starting these conversations—they encourage others not to be afraid to speak out and talk about it.
5. How do you hope the book will impact readers and the community?
I’m hoping it will help the broader community start their own conversations about teen mental health, and feel comfortable doing so. I also hope it will offer useful advice for any teens, friends, parents, educators, or others in need of help.
6. If readers were to have one main take-away from the book, what do you think it could be?
Your mental health should always be your first priority, and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.
7. Which chapter of the book did you enjoy writing most? Which chapter are you most excited about?
I loved writing the “Friends” section because it resonated with me the most. Because I have no lived experience with mental illness nor have I personally represented any of the other roles we wrote about, this chapter was so easy to relate to and I felt that I could contribute most. For that reason, I’m also most excited about it! I’m excited for other people to hear teens’ opinions on this topic as well as my own.
8. How has being involved with CHC’s TWC shaped you as a person and as a mental health advocate?
It’s allowed me to feel less afraid to talk about mental health. It’s made me realize how many teens really do struggle with these issues. It’s given me other perspectives with which to talk about this topic, perspectives that I’ve gained by discussing with the other teens on CHC's TWC.
9. Do you feel there are sufficient opportunities for young people to get involved and make a difference around mental health/advocacy? Explain why or why not.
I don’t think there are. I think sometimes the adults in our lives are too afraid of the reality of the topic or don’t believe that we have the capacity to make change, and therefore don’t bother to help us create outlets for people who need them or for people who are interested in being advocates. In fact, all of the best opportunities I know of were started by teens, for teens.
10. How can schools and administration do a better job of including young people in decision-making processes around students’ mental health/wellbeing?
I think, as a first step, students should be involved in all the conversations that happen around this topic. While it’s not a solution, I think it will allow the student to feel as if their opinion is valued and also eliminate the possibility that anything is hidden from them.
11. How do you envision using your experiences with CHC’s TWC (and any other mental health initiatives you have been involved with) in your future career or life path?
Teen mental health will always be a topic I’m interested and will always be something I advocate for. I think that being with CHC’s TWC has given me numerous connections and resources that I will continue to turn to as I keep learning more about this topic.
TeenzTalk's Blog is here to amplify youth stories and perspectives on topics including personal challenges, self-care practices, initiatives in their community, and more.