Teens Across the Country Share Their Mental Health Struggles During COVID-19

"My advice for another person who might be suffering in silence: speak up. It's a lot easier said than done, but it's worth it," 16-year-old Ryver says

Courageous teens from across the United States are candidly opening up about their mental health in a new nationwide campaign to break down stigmas surrounding mental health challenges.

Earlier this year, WETA launched Well Beings, a national public campaign to destigmatize mental health concerns through storytelling, with a focus on youth mental health and well-being.

Their latest initiative, the BRAVE TEENS video diary series, spotlights teens who are publicly documenting their own experiences living with or recovering from a mental health condition or substance abuse, in hopes to inspire students across the country to reclaim their mental well being.

"Hi. My name is Ryver. I am 16 and I am now a junior in high school," one teen introduces herself in her initial video.

Ryver, who is transgender, recalls growing up and realizing she "wanted to be a woman."

"Along with that came a lot of depression and anxiety," she explains. "I have always used music to cope with my depression and anxiety."

Ryver later shares a video of herself performing one of the songs she's written, titled "In My Head," about struggling with self-image and an eating disorder.

"My advice for another person who might be suffering in silence: speak up. It's a lot easier said than done, but it's worth it," Ryver says.

Another teen, Jada, 16, shares her battle with anxiety and the little things she'll do to help herself relax and calm down.

"Sometimes you need to relax, especially me, if you have like a lot of anxiety," she says. "The other day I had so much anxiety so I was like, 'Ok, for the rest of this day I'm gonna sit on this couch and like, chill out.' I tend to forget that things don't need to get done right at every moment I receive them."

While Jada, who lives in Fairfax, Virginia, feels like she's started to become better at managing her stress, she admits that there will always be setbacks along the way.

Also documenting her battle with anxiety is Larkin, 17, who has felt increased stress from the coronavirus whenever she leaves her home in Napa, California, but says that focusing on tangible solutions has helped her throughout the last few months.

"I think taking control of yourself and taking control of your thoughts, especially, and being able to say, ‘I’m washing my hands, I’m being as safe as possible, I’m wearing a mask,’ that’s definitely been super helpful for me," Larkin says.

Other students like Gaia, 13, who lives with ADHD and autism, shares how she keeps herself active outside. Meanwhile, Emma, 17, debuted a new creative project she started, painting and selling records, to keep herself busy while at home.

All of these stories and more can be found on WellBeings.org and Well Beings' Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels.

To continue the discussion surrounding mental health, WETA and their Well Beings initiative is encouraging other students to participate in their "​We Are Well Beings Story Wall​," which is a digital space for people to share personal reflections in the form of videos, photos and short stories about their own experiences.

The hope is to foster a community of hope, support and understanding.

To participate in the Story Wall, use "#WellBeings" when sharing your experiences, words of encouragement or favorite mental health resources on social media.

For more information, head to wellbeings.org. The Brave Teens series is co-produced by WETA and Principle Pictures, and features storytellers from This Is My Brave, an organization that uses performing arts to fight the stigma around mental health challenges and addiction.

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