Dear Everyone…

An open letter about mental health

Mental Health is Not a Choice

Photo: Crystal Baggett

“People think of mental health as a mindset, not a chemical imbalance. You cannot just flip a switch and change your entire demeanor.” – Senior Danielle Chandler

“It’s a biochemical thing that you have no control over. Then I think understanding it as that, breaks that stigma a little bit because you can’t control it, like you can’t control it if you have bad acne. You can’t control it if you have webbed feet, it’s just this genetic thing that you’re born with.” – Mr. Samuel Abrams, Upper School Science Teacher

“I understand that my life is pretty good and I should be happy with it, but I’m not entirely. It’s not that I’m not happy with my life, it’s like there’s something inside me that like I can’t control that makes me feel bad.” – Freshman Ellie Christie

The Struggle is Real

“People who are mentally ill, who struggle daily to be the best them that they can be sometimes, they don’t always come in and they’re not always perky and happy and skipping around. Sometimes [getting] to your job is a real struggle. Sometimes being okay is a real struggle.” – Mrs. Leah Allison, Director of Library Services for Middle School and High School

Photo: Crystal Baggett


“Through beginning to understand myself, I have found ways to keep my anxiety under control and keep myself motivated. This does not mean that all of my issues have disappeared.” – Danielle Chandler


“It’s just that I feel kind of empty sometimes or sad for no reason. It’s not good.” – Ellie Christie


“It becomes more of like a chess match between you and the creeping existential dread that you can’t control.” – Mr. Abrams


It’s Not a Mood

Photo: Crystal Baggett

“It’s important for students and adults alike to understand that having a mental illness is not a character flaw any more than a cold would be an indication of a character flaw.” – Mrs. Bran, Director of Upper School Counseling and Guidance


“If someone has some sort of mental illness and they talk to you about it, don’t try and make it seem like less of a big deal.” – Ellie Christie


“There’s a difference between being nervous and having generalized anxiety. There’s a difference between being sad and just having the world on your shoulders and having just this really difficult time, like being depressed. Those are just inherently different things” – Mr. Samuel Abrams


Let’s Talk

Photo: Crystal Baggett

“If you are close with someone who does have a mental health issue, if you approach them respectfully they will likely be willing to talk about it.” – Danielle Chandler

“There are people here who care for everybody. Even those who feel like they’re alone, there are people here who care about them and who will be there for them for whatever their need is. I know most of the high school students, but even the ones I don’t know, I care about them. I will do whatever I need to do to be there for them, and I think I can say that about all of our administrators and teachers and coaches. And I just want students to know that.” – Mrs. Bran


“It’s hard because I think it requires a lot of empathy to get it.” – Ellie Christie


“Don’t be afraid to talk about it with someone. We are not as alone as we think we are. There are people in your life who will kind of cover you in an embrace and kind of help you through the rough times. You just have to open yourself and take kind of a scary step off into that. It can be difficult. Especially since a lot of mental illnesses make us want to withdraw and kind of curl up. And that can be more frightening than actually reaching out. So reach out. There are people there, people who love you, and people who, again, will embrace you and help walk you through the path of this. You aren’t alone.” – Mrs. Leah Allison


It Takes More Than Talking

Photo: Crystal Baggett

“That’s the really tough thing about medicating teens is that your brains are still growing and changing.” – Mr. Abrams

“You never know what someone may be going through, and often these issues are something that people can hide.” – Danielle Chandler



“Don’t be so quick to judge. Everybody has a struggle. Don’t be so quick to throw someone under the bus… so before you think someone is being rude or mean or angry… maybe someone is having a bad day. It is not the end of the world to be diagnosed with some sort of mental health issue.” – Mrs . Allison