Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Bekha MilesOn August 23, 2015, Bekah Miles sat in her chair, staring. Could she do it? Would she do it? No. Yes. She was so tired of hiding, tired of pretending, tired of her illness. But since that wasn’t going to change anytime soon, maybe it was time to change her approach. To take her life back, if she could. After ten minutes of debating, she did what millions do every minute – she clicked the “post” button. Then she walked away from Facebook, torn between chewing her fingernails down to stubs and shrugging her shoulders and insisting it was no big deal. Bekah’s Facebook post was only intended for family and friends, but within days it had reached millions, starting a national and international conversation about depression.

Mental health issues are a leading impediment to the health and wellbeing of high school and college students. Left untreated, mental illness – including anxiety, depression and eating disorders, can lead to school failure, family conflicts, substance abuse, violence, juvenile & criminal justice involvement, and even suicide. Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined. Treatment is effective. Yet, because of the shame and stigma surrounding these issues, mental health is not discussed and too many students are suffering in silence. Bekah wants to change that – She wants to share her story to dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness, and encourage fellow students to seek the help and support they need to recover and thrive.

I am delighted to share that Bekah recently joined ASHA International’s Speakers Bureau, and will be sharing her story with  students at Century High School on March 17, 2016, and with students at her alma mater Canby High School on April 1, 2016.

Rebekah (Bekah) Miles is currently a student at George Fox University. She is working on a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies, and is looking forward to graduating in the fall of 2016.

Key Topics:  Depression, Advocacy, Stigma Reduction, Navigating the Health System, Advocating for Change.

If you’d like to book Bekah to speak at your high school or college, please contact Gayathri Ramprasad at gayathri@myasha.org or 971 340 7190.

The You Can Recover Project

Aida and Gayu

I was born and raised in India amidst ancient traditions and a large loving extended family of twenty –three – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. My happy childhoo, however, gave way to a traumatic adolescence. By the time I was 18, I was debilitated by generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. At 23, as a young mother in America, I struggled to free myself from the death-hold of depression. Over the years, my life became a blur of doctor visits, medications, hospitalizations, ECTs, and failed suicide attempts. Like millions of people struggling with mental illness around the world, I eventually gave up hope for recovery. I felt alone, afraid and ashamed.

But, in April 1989, a stranger came to visit me in the most unlikely of places, a psychiatric ward, and gave me the gift of HOPE that changed my life forever. Her name was Aida. In the short time we spent together, Aida held me in her arms and shared her struggles with depression, and her relentless pursuit of recovery. Although Aida’s visit was short, she gave me the gift of HOPE that has sustained me for a lifetime.

On October 10th, in celebration of World Mental health, my nonprofit organization, ASHA International, launched the You Can Recover Project. 

YCRP logo - JPEGThe You Can Recover Project’s mission is to give HOPE to people struggling with mental health issues around the world, and inspire them with personal insights on how to recover and rebuild a healthy, meaningful, productive life.

I sincerely hope that the stories shared in the You Can Recover Project will give HOPE to people struggling with mental health issues around the world, and let them know they can recover, just as Aida’s story inspired me to recover and rebuild a healthy, meaningful, productive life.

To learn more about the You Can Recover Project and share your recovery story, please click here…

The stories featured in the project is evidence to the fact that while mental illness has no barriers, hope and healing have no boundaries.

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