My name is Jake Thorson, an 18-year-old student enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, pursuing a degree in psychology. I grew up in Foothill Ranch, California and have been extremely passionate about psychology for the last few years of my life.
When I was about 5 years old, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, and have continued to struggle with the disorder ever since. Anxiety began to affect every aspect of my life, forcing me to quit sports in elementary school because of how they intensified my anxiety, causing me to hate school due to the pressure I put on myself, and destroying the minimal confidence I had. However, it wasn’t until high school when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder that I began to put a name to my feelings, and I finally realized that I wasn’t the only one going through this.
After researching my disorders during high school, I began to ask myself, “Why have I felt like I’m the only one suffering from them? How can I navigate life without others guiding me?” The truth is, a lot more people suffer from anxiety and depression than you might think, with the number of adults suffering from the disorders reaching up to the tens of millions. The problem is the stigmatization of mental illness — it can be incredibly difficult to be honest and open about mental illness because of the history of how mental illness has been treated and depictions of disorders in the media. The stigmatization of mental illness is often most prevalent during high school, a seemingly ruthless period of life during which nearly every student lacks the maturity and awareness required to talk about mental illness.
My goal is to try and do my part in helping those high school suffering from anxiety and depression, the two disorders I have experience with, by explaining how I survived high school and using my mistakes in an effort to prevent others from making the same mistakes. Additionally, I will be addressing high school teachers and what they can do to help students that are suffering in silence, as well as what could be done to transform schooling so that the development of mental illnesses in students is significantly less common.