Shining a Light on Mental Illness
Please note that the content below may not be suitable for all readers, as it contains discussion of mental illness, self-harm and suicide. If you are in need of immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
One in five people will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And rates among teenagers are at an all-time high. Yet, despite their prevalence, these illnesses are often silenced, stigmatized and misunderstood — as signs of weakness, as “psycho” conditions, as “all in your head.”
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Eastside hopes to shine a light on mental illness, to delve past stereotypes and uncover firsthand perspectives from East students and teachers who are battling with, healing from and lending a voice to their mental illnesses. We hope this package will provide you with a richer perspective on these illnesses as well as the tools to seek help for yourself or someone else who is struggling.
We’d like to express our gratitude to the East faculty members who have generously offered their time in assisting us with this project — Mrs. Jennifer DiStefano, Mrs. Sheri Orlando and Mr. Greg Gagliardi. Special thanks to Dr. Dennis Perry, whose guidance and support made our coverage possible.
And to the courageous students and teachers who shared their hearts with us, letting us delve into their minds to open ours in the process — you have made us cry, you have made us smile and you have left us awestruck at your persistence and power. Thank you for your stories.
— Giana, Henry, Dakota, Aine, Samantha & Sophia
The artwork in this package is from students who were asked to draw what their mental illness feels like. Select one of the drawings to learn more about the form of illness. To protect the confidentiality of students and faculty, all personal perspectives and artwork have been kept anonymous, and voices have been distorted.