I entered a giveaway today. Sure, that’s no big deal, but the message behind the giveaway was a big deal.This particular giveaway isn’t so much about the prize (it is awesome though, a $100 Bloomingdale’s E-gift Card), but more about building awareness for Youth Mental Health.
A little info:
The Child Mind Institute is partnering with Facebook to raise public awareness of mental health issues in children. They’re kicking off the #MyYoungerSelf campaign with celebrities like Emma Stone and Jay Leno talking about how they overcame mental illness and/or learning disorders.
These celebrities aren’t just sharing their personal experiences, but offering advice to their younger selves to show others what any child can achieve with the right care.
It’s a Big Deal
Unless you or a loved one has struggled with mental illness or learning disorders, it can be hard to understand why this is a big deal. When I was a kid there was a stigma around mental illness, especially when it came to kids. I guess they thought if we (the kids) weren’t perfect it reflected poorly on them. I don’t remember any after-school specials focusing on mental health or learning disorders. I really don’t remember hearing about youth suicides on the news. Not that it wasn’t happening, but people weren’t talking about it.
Sure, maybe it’s easier not talking about it; sweeping it under the rug makes it all go away… right?
The kids need to know it’s okay to talk about it, and that there isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
What Makes Me an Expert?
My first suicide attempt was at 9 years old. 9. NINE. I hung myself from the shower. If I hadn’t forgotten to lock the door I don’t know what would have happened. My baby brother came in and got my parents. Instead of talking about it I was punished pretty severely and told it would be worse the next time.
There were a lot of next times.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 14 and spent the majority of my adolescence in mental health facilities. They were the only place I felt normal; ironic, huh? While I was there, I learned how to handle things. How to handle life. A lot of that comes from learning I wasn’t alone.
Did you know that 1 in 5 children in America suffers from a mental illness or learning disorder? There are still millions of young people across the country who aren’t getting help because of the fear, shame, and stigma about these conditions.
A Quick Message to #MyYoungerSelf
If I could go back and tell #MyYoungerSelf anything, it would be that “This too shall pass”. Everything is temporary and while it won’t always be perfect I need to make the most of it while it, and I, are here. Life is hard, and sometimes it sucks, but it’s all worth it when you get to see a beautiful sunset, cuddle with a fluffy kitten, or help someone smile when they just want to cry. Love yourself and above everything don’t be afraid to laugh or cry.
You Can Be the Difference
For the entire month of May, you can follow along with the #MyYoungerSelf campaign. Share the stories told by celebrities about their own struggles and conquests with Mental Health and Learning disorders. On May 9th there’s a Facebook Live-athon and you can follow the #MyYoungerSelf on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. There are so many ways to get involved.
And, you can even enter the giveaway that inspired me to write this post. By entering you’re showing it’s okay to talk about, that there’s no shame in mental illness or learning disorders. Let your voice be heard and be the difference that can save today’s youth.
Be sure to share this with your friends and family, and check out the guides and toolkits for parents and educators including the Parent’s Guide to Getting Good Care and Child Mind Institute Symptom Checker.
One last Shout Out
A big shout out to Bloomingdale’s for stepping up and supporting a cause that is so very important.