When he was 15, Jayson was hit by a car and recovered physically with the help of his family and medical team. He also attended a few therapy sessions where he revealed being struck by fear at the time of the accident. Several months later, however, Jayson still could not stop reliving the moment in his head. He suffered from nightmares and grew increasingly anxious. He became extremely depressed and started having suicidal thoughts. Jayson’s somewhat conservative parents didn’t understand the extent of his anguish. According to their culture, struggle was simply a normal part of life, and Jayson felt obliged to overcome his pain all by himself. He felt extremely vulnerable. By some happy coincidence, one day a group of speakers visited his school to share their personal experiences with mental illness. Their talk motivated Jayson to reach out for help. He confided in his school’s social worker (who would later inspire Jayson to become a social worker himself), and was referred to a youth psychiatrist. Jayson’s suffering turned out to be the result of a traumatic stress response, coupled with depression and anxiety.
Jayson’s parents grew to understand his mental illness and offered him their support, which became one of the biggest factors in his recovery. He regained a sense of inner peace and learned to let go of his feelings of adversity. He even became his school’s ambassador for the “Stop the Stigma” program, visiting a number of different schools to share his story, talk about mental health issues, and show other young people how to break free of their silence and find help. Having experienced the pain of stigma first-hand, Jayson firmly believes that education is key to giving mental health the priority it deserves in our society. He is eager be a part of this push toward greater awareness.