Hi! My name is Caroline Durham and I am a sophomore at Savannah Country Day School. This project is incredibly important to me because my best friend suffered with very severe depression, and I want to help others like her. I was with her when someone as a joke, told her to go kill herself, which first of all, should never be a joke. I remember vividly the way she reacted, she was immediately upset, building to hysterics. What the boy who made that comment didn’t know was that she had been self harming for months, and had tried to hang herself once already. This is very important to me because I want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. It was scary for me to see how she reacted, but even scarier that someone would say something like that and never realize what a dramatic impact such a small comment like that had. I want to make people aware that their words really do matter because teen anxiety and depression is very common. Simply being aware and sensitive to the issues in the world around us can make a huge impact.
This video is a presentation that I created by compiling important national and international statistics as well as some personal stories. The goal was to show that anxiety and depression are common issues, and by realizing that, we can help each other fight past these disorders by being a support group to everyone, and using our words for good rather than tearing someone down.
I designed these posters myself, and put them up around campus. I included powerful statistics, but more importantly how to get help. By simply making facts like these common place around campus, an impact is being made. Although people may not realize it, by seeing these posters everyday, they are absorbing the information I have to share. So one day, if they ever are in a situation when they need help, or they need to help a friend, they know how to. These posters are also designed specifically for my school, with statistics and quotes from the viewer’s peers, which makes the issue much more real and makes the posters have much more meaning than a generic poster. To get the statistics and quotes I sent out a survey to the entire upper school and used the data from the first 100 respondents.
What can you do to help?
When collecting statistics, I also asked the students what could be done on campus that would help solve our school community’s problems with anxiety or depression so our campus is more accepting, empathizing, and educated on getting help, and how the could be applied to campuses around the globe. I first asked my peers if they were comfortable getting help, and many said no because they felt like the teachers wouldn’t care, they thought they didn’t need help, or they thought they would be viewed as weak for needing help. Here are some ideas that came directly from the people struggling most with the stigma around mental health:
We could offer a program for student counseling rather than all teacher counseling- a student led support group so to speak
Offer a better education about mental health in our health courses so people will accept and acknowledge that this is a real issue and not people being over dramatic
- Have a trusted counselor on campus for students to go to if they need help
So while you may not have control over what counselor you get, you could be that leading student that steps forward and starts a support group, you could be the person creating posters and putting them up around school to better your community’s understanding of mental health, you could be the peer that people trust to encourage them when they are feeling down, you could be somebody’s hero simply by telling someone to stop making comments that continue the negative stigma of mental health that keeps students from getting they help they need due to embarrassment. Even the little things add up and you could make a big impact on not just the community, but individuals that are counting on you and your leadership.
IF YOU NEED HELP, USE THESE RESOURCES:
1-866-488-7386: The Trevor Project- a 24/7 crisis line for teens in the LGTBQ+ community suffering with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The Trevor project also includes instant messaging as well as education
1-800-273-8255: The National suicide prevention line available 24/7
http://bit.ly/2pbog7g: This is a small forum used for sharing stories to show that there is hope! Check it out if you need some inspiration!
http://www.chatzy.com/therapy: This is another forum similar to the one above, but less formal and less public. Simply make an alias and log in! But of course, be safety conscious!