I’m 21 years old, and besides my busy schedule as a full-time student the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, keeping a regular running and yoga schedule, work, and trying to balance a social life, I am also the founder and Executive Director of Anxiety In Teens Non-Profit, LLC.
AiT is a resource for youth with mental health disorders, offering information, inspiration, and community whenever and wherever needed.
Throughout middle school I suffered from severe panic attacks. I feared the death of someone in my family and recall the numerous days I would miss class, trying to make sure I could keep an eye on family members. In early high school, I started dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies, an even more difficult internal struggle. Many close friends did not know that I even had an anxiety disorder. I didn’t keep it a secret because it was embarrassing; I was just exhausted at the thought of trying to explain something so inexplicable to those I knew wouldn’t understand.
During the summer of 10th grade, I attended camp. It was only for one week, but I was very anxious about being away from home. I was frustrated when I tried googling information about immediate relief for anxiety, especially for youth. I was astounded to find nothing for me — no place with others who were going through the same thing, no tidbits on what I could do right now when I needed it most. That’s when I took out a notebook and decided it was time to create AnxietyInTeens.com.
Today on my website youth can find expert interviews, a community forum for teens so they don’t feel so alone, and more information on how to overcome anxiety and other disorders through nutrition and exercise, mindfulness and mediation, and other ways. Fifteen University of St. Thomas students work as interns with me, helping with event planning, online marketing, and social media. They are also putting together the next OutRun Anxiety 5K/10K benefit.
I have been a speaker for national mental health talk shows, conferences, school classrooms, websites, and support groups. I have won the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health 2010 Outstanding Service Award, as well as coming in as a Fowler Business Concept Challenge finalist. I am also developing Cognific, mental health software for patients and therapists, for which I earned student-division semifinalist recognition in the Minnesota Cup business competition. If you’d like to host an OutRun Anxiety Event in your town, please contact me.
Find out more about AiT on Facebook and Twitter: @AnxietyInTeens.