It's "OK2TALK" about mental health in young people

Half of all people who struggle with mental health issues start by age 14, yet less than 20 percent of young people get the help they need.

The OK2TALK campaign is working to change that by providing a safe and encouraging environment for teens and young adults to share their own personal stories. The National Association of Broadcasters and Raycom Media (KPLC's parent company) are teaming up to bring more awareness to mental illness in young people through OK2TALK.

If you talk to a young adult that has struggled with mental illness before - ranging from anxiety to depression - you will quickly learn that it can be tough to find someone that can relate to the depth of those feelings.

For one long and trying year, Kelly Booth of Lake Charles worked to hide what she was really feeling inside. "You look fine on the outside, but on the inside you just kind of feel like you're losing it," she said.

Kelly was dealing with severe anxiety, including panic attacks from the moment she woke up until she went to bed. "I  knew once I started isolating myself and not wanting to get out that I had to do something to change," she said.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues affecting teens and young adults.  Licensed professional counselor and life coach Scott Riviere with K.I.D.Z. Inc. says the stigma oftentimes attached with mental illness keeps young people from talking about it. "Especially in teenagers, anxiety and depression are incredibly common because their life is fairly complicated," he said, "they're growing up, they have school, they're trying to engage in that separation with their parents."

The rate for serious mental health conditions is highest for those ages 18 to 25. That is why a tumblr-based community called OK2TALK is giving young adults a place to add their voice by sharing quotes, photos, videos and messages of support in a safe, moderated space. "So many times you just feel so isolated and you just don't know what to do," said Kelly, "talking to somebody and getting their perspective can really help you look at it in a different light."

Talking can even be the "cure" someone needs. "Sigmund Freud was the first person to coin the term 'talking cure'" said Riviere, "he just found that with certain people, just the simple act of admitting it and talking about it helped them to let it go and start to feel better."

For Kelly, making it okay to talk about her anxiety is what led to her finding her calm at work and at home with her husband.

Now, the two are expecting a baby boy and challenges that she knows she is capable of overcoming. "I still deal with the anxiety from time to time, but now I know methods to coach myself through it, not to let it totally tear me down for the day," said Kelly.

To learn more about OK2TALK click here.

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