Still Human: Students Fight Mental Illness Stigma


Even though my life
looked pretty good on the outside, like, I was struggling inside.
My life started to fall apart. And I remember trying to
reach out to someone, and they were just kind of —
turned the cold shoulder. They didn’t really
take it as seriously. And I’m, like, hey,
I don’t want to be here anymore. And they were, like, all right,
and just kind of left. I decided I was going to
take my own life. And I sent a last text message
to my friend Tyler. And I was just kind of,
like, you know, why? It was just me
kind of questioning. It was, like, my last-ditch effort
of just someone to provide me some sort of understanding.
He called up one of my other buddies, Mitch, and he had him — he was over at
my house in 10 minutes. And, like, he didn’t try and
give me advice or anything. He just kind of
let me talk to him. And that’s really
what I needed. He just let me, like,
break down to him. And after that, he was, like,
all right, let’s go tell your parents. Like, my family and I
realized I need help. 54% of kids in our school
look down on someone receiving help
for a mental illness. I’m, like, wow.
They’re the same kids that I’m sitting in class with
cracking jokes with. And that’s crazy. I’m, like, all right,
how can we change that? – Programs that use students
to support other students can be some of the most effective
programs that go on in schools. Students, as they get older, rely more
on peers for support and acceptance. By having kids involved in changing
the school norms, the acceptance, that can lead to a much more
positive and healthy school climate. And that, in turn, can help student
achievement and student success. – Last year, I was in
a psychology class with Connor and started becoming friends.
We had a project together. And he started talking to me
about his mental illness. And the facts
kind of surprised me. And after learning more,
I thought it was important that more people learn
like I did about it. – A lot of times, it’s kind of like
the elephant in the room. Like, everyone knows it’s there,
but no one really wants to talk about it. And we want to kind of create,
like, a good environment where it’s okay
to talk about it. – If there is an interest in students
helping their fellow students, and they’re looking for funding
to train those students, the department does have
a student mini-grant program that can be used to help
support some of those efforts. – It’s a lot harder to
battle through something alone than it is if you have people
around you that love and care. We want people to
talk about it and realize that this is something
that can be treated. We don’t want it
in the dark anymore. You know, if someone comes to you,
and you don’t really know what to do, all I got to say is just
don’t turn your back. Like, that’s that person
reaching out and trying to get help. A lot of people, like,
suffer in silence. And if they take that effort
to reach out, you know, you may be
really uncomfortable. The thing is, you don’t even really have
to know anything about mental illness. Just give them
some love and support. Stopping the stigma doesn’t only have
to do with people who are struggling. Everyone can kind of
lend a hand and be open to talking about mental illness
and supporting each other to get help. [ Music ]

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