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SpeakUp Club encourages teens to address mental health

These teens are speaking up to end the stigma around mental health
Posted at 11:34 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 04:33:30-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- An event was held in Hanover County on Tuesday night to give young people the chance to share their stories surrounding mental health struggles in hopes of encouraging others to do the same.

"Mental illness doesn't discriminate and it doesn't give up. It's okay, you are not alone," Julia Baitinger, a student at Atlee High School, said.

The event was organized by the SpeakUp Club at Atlee. The peer-driven group was inspired by Cameron Gallagher, a teen who died of a cardiac event in 2014. Before her death, she had dealt with anxiety and depression and was on a mission to help other teens.

Baitinger suffered panic attacks, anxiety and PTSD brought on by seeing her father have a heart attack during her middle school basketball game.

"I think spreading awareness and sharing other stories will make people feel less alone," said Maggie Pace, one of the event's organizers.

Lilian Chamberlain opened up about her struggles with anxiety and previously having an eating disorder.

The girls are now emphasizing the importance of being kind and remembering that people are often fighting battles that others may know nothing about.

"You don't always see what's going on in someone's life. And a lot of the time, you just need to be open to talking to people and if people come up to you and need to talk, let them don't shut them down," Chamberlain said.

Some parents attended the event as well to get some insight into what problems their children are facing.

"I just got an education tonight. A lot of times, a parent might say to a kid, suck it up and you'll be fine tomorrow. And they will, they just need to pay more attention. Your child will really be calling out for help," Chris Pace, one parent, said.

The goal of the event was to take one more step to end the stigma around mental health, especially for teens.

To learn more about the SpeakUp Club at Atlee, you can read CBS 6's Tracy Sears's latest edition of "You Are Not Alone" where she featured the teens and their work.

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