Charlotte Senior Starts Mental Health Club

Mallard Creek High School Student Anthony Anderson wearing the Cont;nue Mental Health Club T-shirt.

Mallard Creek High School Senior Anthony Anderson wears a Cont;nue mental health club T-shirt. He was instrumental in starting the extracurricular club at the Mecklenburg County school.

Mallard Creek High School Senior Anthony Anderson was hoping that some of his peers were feeling the way he did – on top of the world some days, unsure about their purpose on others or figuring out how to best navigate life as a teen.

He thought, what if we could get together and informally talking about mental health concerns and maybe we wouldn’t feel alone?

Anthony is the founding member and president of Mallard Creek High School’s first mental health club named Cont;nue Mental Health Club (yes, that is a semi colon in the name) open to any students wanting to discuss and coordinate events focused on mental health issues. The club has held events during the academic year that have been well attended by his fellow high school peers.

Cont;nue Mental Health Club Begins

At Mallard Creek High School, students are encouraged to submit requests to form clubs at the beginning of the school year. One particular day, when Anthony, 18, admits he was struggling, he filled out and submitted his idea for a mental health club. He was both happy and surprised that his request was approved.

He had served on the Junior Class Council during the 2021-22 school year and felt that experience would help him in coordinating the mental health club. He had plans and a vision for the new club and secured other friends and students to assist with establishing a theme, social media profiles and distributing information to fellow students.

Where does his motivation come from?

Anthony was formally diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was 13 years old and remembers the struggles he had while in the classroom, at the time in Florida schools. In 2021, he moved with his family from Florida, where he was born and raised, to North Carolina and was hoping for a clean slate. He credits his mom for working hard to move the family in search of opportunities for himself and his brothers.

Today, he continues his mental health journey with therapy and medication management through Monarch’s Mecklenburg Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic. He says panic and anxiety attacks are something he has struggled with through his teen years.

Monarch Behavioral Health Therapist Destani Rogers says about Anthony: “I have been able to see his passion for mental health . . . he has great ideas about ways to spread information about mental health to his peers.”

Anthony says his motivation and support comes from his mom, Altonya. “She always says, ‘Don’t let your struggle inhibit you,’” he shares, noting that she was proud of him for stepping forward and creating the club.

He describes a recent spring meeting of Cont;nue with an attendance of about 50 students and sponsored by Monarch. In February, a meeting had speakers and discussed the role that mental health plays in sports, drawing a good turnout of students who wanted to know more. They club started a social media poll on their platforms and provided mental health information in which students are interested.

Anthony recently received a monetary donation to be used toward the club from an anonymous donor who applauded his efforts. “The person thanked me for what we were doing and to keep going. The note said more people need to hear your story. This motivated me,” he says.

He believes that mental health is important in everything that we do from being a student to entering the workforce and starting a career. “Mental health is different for each person, different for everybody. I am not going to tell you that it is going to get completely better because I have not experienced it yet,” he says, adding that it is important to him to share his story with others and about the will to overcome.

Plans for the future

Anthony, who is a graduating senior, will be pursuing a college degree in Information Technology. He intends to continue incorporating mental health interests along his journey.

“Find something that you are passionate about and that you can carry through,” suggests Anthony to his peers. “Don’t sit around and think about things that bother you. Try to be positive when you get up in the morning. You have to realize; you can only do what you can do.”

For more information about Monarch services, visit here or call (866) 272-7826 to get started with services.

Recent National Mental Health Findings Show Care is Needed

In addition to the usual ups and downs experienced by a teenager, today’s youth are faced the additional pressures of hectic schedules, the pressure to succeed, social media, underdeveloped coping skills and relationships difficulties, according to Adolescent Wellness Academy.

Monarch Associate Medical Director Dr. Jacqueline N. Smith, M.D., agrees that today’s teens face unprecedented pressures and access to adequate mental health care and a network of support are key. “Nationally and locally, there is a need for kids to have access to mental health care from a specialized mental health care provider,” she explains. “The adults in a child or teen’s life need to be observant and when something is not right, talk to them. Then communicate with your pediatrician or school for linkage to care. Though the pandemic was horrible, it has led to agencies like Monarch adopting a hybrid model of care which has increased access to mental health specialists to adults and kids.”

A variety of resources provide information about the state of youth mental health including the recent annual “State of Mental Health in America” from Mental Health America. 

Take a look at the statistics below that show what today’s teens are experiencing. 

  • Recent studies indicate that approximately one in five teens between ages twelve and eighteen suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder. Source: Adolescent Wellness Academy
  • 16 percent of youth report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year. More than 2.7 million youth are experiencing severe major depression. Almost 12 percent of youth (estimated at over 2.7 million) are experiencing severe major depression. Source: Mental Health America
  • 50 percent of lifetime cases of mental illness begin during the teen years. Source: Adolescent Wellness Academy
  • 60 percent of youth with major depression do not receive mental health treatment. Source: Mental Health America
  • Between 2008 and 2017, the suicide rate among teens aged 18 – 19 increased by 56%. Source: Adolescent Wellness Academy
  • 1 in 10 youth with private insurance do not have coverage for mental or emotional difficulties which is estimated at over 1.2 million youth. Source: Mental Health America
  • Nationally, only 28 percent of youth with severe depression receive some consistent treatment (7-25+ visits in a year. Most (57.3%) youth with severe depression do not receive any care. Source: Mental Health America.

Posted on: Friday April 28, 2023