Tuesday, 14 June 2011
On my way to Woburn Memorial High for my first speaking engagement with the Teen Speakers Program, I had no idea how the students would react to me. Due to the summer weather outside and their last day of classes approaching, it was somewhat of a challenge to get them to listen. But, for the period of time Emma and I spoke on June 8th, I was pleasantly surprised to notice a lot of wandering eyes shift their attention toward us.Through sharing my story about struggling with bipolar disorder, it is very reassuring to know that a group of young people now have a different perspective on mental illness. This opportunity presented to me by Families For Depression Awareness gave me the chance to explain what the disorder is, and dispel any stigma around it, while discussing my personal battle with depression, diagnosis and treatment. I let everyone know the damage that is caused by saying derogatory words relating to mental health. I also reminded everyone that these issues are more common than they think, and can happen to anyone.
Lastly, I stressed the importance of seeking help from a friend, relative or appropriate adult like a health teacher or guidance counselor. I am confident that discussions like these give adolescents the tools to understanding mental illness, and I’m hoping I made someone in the room feel more comfortable to speak out, or want to be further educated.
--Olivia, Families for Depression Awareness Teen Speaker