At 16, Ali became a volunteer firefighter and experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and years of bullying at the hands of her fellow firefighters. She developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which kept her stuck in the past and prevented her from engaging in life. Through working with a wonderful therapist and surrounding herself with the love and support of family and friends, Ali learned how to take her life back and live it freely. Ali has re-identified herself as a victor instead of a victim.
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Andrew had it all entering his senior year at Muhlenberg College. He was a starting defensive back for the football team, named captain of the track and field team, and already had a full-time position upon graduation with a large accounting firm in Philadelphia. However, an injury in the first game of the season caused drastic changes for him. Andrew hid his struggles until he experienced suicidal ideations. With a strong support group behind him, Andrew began taking the needed steps toward recovery. The overwhelmingly positive feedback he received inspired him to continue talking about mental health.
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Brooke comes from a childhood full of dysfunction. She grew up having to present a happy face even when she wasn’t happy. Her intense fear of abandonment led to her being taken advantage of by so-called “friends” who would threaten their friendship if she didn’t do what they wanted her to. These experiences were damaging and infused her with self-doubt, guilt, and a feeling of never being good enough. She engaged in reckless behaviors in an effort to escape her feelings, yet she continued to hide her pain behind a smile. Eventually, she found herself ready, and had planned, to take her own life, but chose to seek help instead. Brooke has learned that her best way to recovery is through self-love, consistency, and believing in herself. While living her dream as a mental health speaker, she hopes to impart knowledge around letting go of self-doubt and negative coping mechanisms by replacing them with positive skills and attitudes. More >>
Deanna’s story begins in her junior year of high school, when she began struggling with her body image, depression, and overall feelings of inadequacy. She turned to food in an attempt to cope and eventually developed an eating disorder. In college, she reached a point where she couldn’t see past the darkness and attempted suicide. After returning to treatment, she learned to challenge her negative thoughts and find healthier ways to cope. Once she discovered that the thoughts and feelings that led her down that path were not as uncommon as she thought, she was inspired to speak out about her experiences in the hope of showing students they are not alone and that help is out there.
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Since she was nine years old, Emma has felt the weight of anxiety – even without having a name to call what she was feeling. She became a high-achiever in an attempt to fulfill the expectations of others, and to hide the growing symptoms of her anxiety. The recognition she received for her achievements made her a prime target for bullying, both in school and on her track team. In her quest to find answers to the questions she had about her feelings, she discovered the importance of self-advocacy and the value of trusting yourself. Today, she shares her story of recovery to inspire others to find their way to healing through self-advocacy and positive coping mechanisms. More >>


As a child, Evan was an enthusiastic student who was excited about school. At the same time, he was experiencing panic attacks and generalized anxiety. Once Evan entered his final year of middle school, his anxiety was no longer random, but rather an everyday battle. The daily panic attacks and generalized anxiety would soon be followed by depression, and eventually problems with substance abuse. During his senior year of high school, Evan was arrested, kicked out of his high school, and spent his 18th birthday on house arrest. An “ah-hah” moment put him on a path of modifying his lifestyle and creating a positive mindset. By sharing his story, Evan hopes to spark the “ah-hah” moment for others who are suffering, inspiring them to speak up and ask for help. More >>


When she was eight years old, Jenna’s father passed away. The effects of this trauma on her young life took a toll. She was diagnosed with anxiety, something she could not comprehend at the tender age of eight. Beginning in elementary school, and continuing through middle school and high school, she developed negative coping skills. Through her commitment to treatment and ongoing therapy, she not only survived but eventually thrived. She is now a mental health advocate, enlightening others and ending the stigma about mental health issues. More >>


Joey always knew that he wanted help people who experienced mental health issues, and he expected that to come by pursuing a career in psychology. What he never expected was that he would have to deal with mental health issues of his own. When he went to college, Joey’s self-doubt and inability to accept his sexuality caused him to fall into a very deep and intense depression, experience suicidal ideation, and using self-harm to cope. Eventually, Joey realized that he did not want to continue living in that painful existence and entered therapy. His goal is to share his story to help others get to a place where they can accept themselves. He wants everyone to know that there’s always hope, and with perseverance and understanding, things can get better. More >>


Jon grew up in a home of high-achievers. In middle school, Jon began to experience anxiety that prevented him from being able to achieve not only the goals set for him by his family, but his own. His attempts to avoid the stress brought on by his anxiety drove him to adopt negative coping skills. After turning to his family for help, and receiving their encouragement, Jon was able to find healthy coping skills that he still uses today to manage his anxiety.
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When Jordan was a high school student, he seemed to have it all. But the smiling happy face was a mask he wore to cover the anxiety and depression that lay beneath the surface. Soon he was drinking and his grades were falling, and he was finally diagnosed with depression. A year later, he found himself in a treatment center. Shortly after that, he attempted to end his life. Now, Jordan speaks out about his struggles, a messenger of hope for others that although we can’t choose the things that happen to us we CAN choose how we cope with them.
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From a young age Katya struggled with anxiety and depression, but couldn’t make sense of what she was experiencing. The daughter of parents who came from traditional ethnic cultures made her feel pressure to be the “all-American girl.” The challenges of growing up in her small, affluent town were exacerbated by a genetic predisposition to mental illness, lack of understanding, and traumatic events. Unable to process these experiences, Katya sank deeply into depression, anxiety, and negative coping mechanisms, all the while pushing herself to maintain the image of being a good student and pretending to have it all together. During a study abroad experience, Katya broke down, unable to function or continue her daily life. This pushed her to finally get the help she needed. Now healthy and accepting of herself, Katya empowers students to make healthy choices and build their own identity.
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Kelly was raised in a wonderful and loving family, however, something never felt right. She didn’t feel a-part-of or good enough growing up. All this negative energy and self-talk eventually fueled Kelly’s attempt to achieve “the perfect body” and she found herself in the midst of an active eating disorder. In an attempt to escape her eating disorder, she began using drugs and alcohol while in middle school. After being arrested multiple times in high school and having her freedom at stake, she made the brave decision to seek help by attending a drug and alcohol treatment facility. Thanks to the dedication she shows to her active and ongoing recovery, she hopes to help other young people cope positively with their internal thoughts, making sure they reflect the unconditional love that is in the world.
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As a child, Kristen experienced significant trauma. When she reached her preteen years, Kristen didn’t know how to manage what she was feeling and turned to alcohol, drugs, and self-harm to mask the pain that she so desperately wanted to keep locked away. As a result of this she suffered with debilitating depression and anxiety that affected her in her everyday life. After going to treatment, where she learned how to replace her negative coping skills with positive ones, she worked hard to incorporate those habits into her life. Kristen, being a young person in recovery, proves it’s never too late or too early to get the help you need.
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When Lucas was in high school, he’d tell you he had a perfect life. He was known for his no-stress, go-with-the-flow attitude, and an unshakeable confidence in his ability to achieve anything he put his mind to. No one would have ever thought he’d struggle with depression, including Lucas himself. Because he didn’t know depression was an illness that could affect anyone, Lucas hid his silent battle through high school and into college. Eventually, his depression became so severe he lost the ability to eat. He reached out to his family, and they helped him find a doctor to start the recovery process. Now, Lucas speaks out about his battle with depression to let others know there is always hope, and that there is a wonderful life on the other side of depression. More >>


Growing up, Ryan had a constant need for acceptance that eventually developed into an ongoing feeling of anxiety and fear. He also experienced severe body image issues that only exacerbated these negative thoughts. When Ryan got to high school, he started to use drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape from all that he was feeling, which eventually led to a physical addiction. Once decided to reach out for help, he found a peer support group where he was able to identify with others that had been through similar experiences. It was through the group that Ryan became able to look at the core issues that propelled him to use drugs and alcohol. Ryan realizes that because he met people willing to share their stories with him, he was able to transform his life. He hopes to do the same through Minding Your Mind, guiding students to understand that there are positive and productive ways to manage intense feelings and seek help. More >>


As a teenager entering high school, Scott knew his life was going to change. What he did not expect was that the change would come in the form of depression. After being cut from his high school basketball team and developing severe acne, Scott began to feel worthless and spent his days mentally abusing himself. Throughout college, Scott’s issues only grew. He turned his world around by incorporating positivity into his life and learning how to achieve self-security regardless of what life threw his way. By harnessing the power of positive self-talk, Scott realized that thoughts are just as important as actions. He works to inspire others to climb out of the darkness and find the light in their lives. More >>