1 in 4 Americans struggle with Mental Illness. Globally, 125 million suffer from depression, and nearly 20% of Adults have an anxiety disorder. With numbers this staggering, it is unacceptable that we view our disorders with shame and embarrassment and feel like they must be hidden. With the support of my friends, family and community, I plan on making a difference in the fight against mental illness and the stigma it bears. It is our duty to alter the perception that is associated with mental disorders, and make it more acceptable and comfortable to share our stories. We must start to talk...now. Statistically, we all know someone who struggles with their mental health. As a society, we must enact change now and focus on healing and understanding our minds. We have the power to make people's lives more liveable, your neighbor who sees no reason to live, your brother who suffers from post-traumatic stress, or your employee who you didn't even know is starving herself; they need our help.
Having anorexia isn't a choice, a mindset or a weakness. It is a battle I have fought for years, one that has given me strength, love and empathy. I hope to pass on my strength and wisdom to others, to empower people with my story, and make them feel a little less alone. If my story and passion have the power to effect just one life, to give them courage, hope or peace, then my mission is accomplished. We must remove the fear, shame and embarrassment associated with mental illness. We must value people as unique individuals, who are way more than their disorder, who are worthy of being heard without being judged. We are not defined by our illness, We are warriors who fight the voices in our heads every day, who conquer our minds and have the power to change the world. Let's be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. One voice, one story at a time, we can Stop the Stigma.
As a society, let's make a pledge to fill our hearts with love and promote wellness, not illness. Let's promote a positive self-image, a healthy mindset, and an inner-confidence that flourishes inside us. Let us love who we are and realize that we are more than a body, or what others make us out to be. Let's focus less on what society pressures us to be and more on who we want to be as individuals. Our personalities, hearts and minds should be valued more highly than the physical manifestation we see in the mirror. It starts inside each of us. Just like a glow-stick, some of us have to break before we shine.
The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation is the world's leading donor-supported organization dedicated to finding the causes, improved treatments and cures for mental illnesses. They fund research across a broad range of mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and childhood brain and behavior disorders. They stand alone in their scope and breadth of research grants awarded to scientists at all levels- those just beginning their careers as well as Nobel Laureates. Having just celebrated their 25 anniversary, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has awarded over $300 million worldwide to more than 3700 scientists carefully selected by a prestigious council. They are committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. Funding in the form of a NARSAD** grant is one of the highest distinctions in the field of mental health research, focused on three priorities: Basic Research to understand what occurs in the brain to cause mental illness, New technologies to advance or create new ways of understanding and studying the brain, and Next Generation Therapies to reduce symptoms of mental illness and retrain the brain.
The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation relies on the generosity of people like us who fuel the hope and promise of future discoveries that will improve the lives of so many. What's so incredible is 100% of all donor contributions for research are invested directly in NARSAD GRANTS.
My ultimate goal is to make a huge impact on my school and community, enlightening them, engaging them, and educating them. My campaign, “STOP the Stigma” has taken root in my high school, where my voice will be heard. Posters plaster the walls, announcements are made, and stories are shared, as I start the conversation at Upper Dublin. No one is defined by their illness, we are all unique people who with the help of an informed society, can unite and conquer our minds. '
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is rated A+ by the American Institute of Philanthropy, is named one of “America's 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine and has excellent ratings from the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator.
**NARSAD is an acronym for National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the former name of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.