Five Ways to Fight the Stigma Around Mental Illness

« Back  |  

One of the most important parts of Mental Health Awareness Month is working to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. With 1 in 5 adults in the United States living with a mental illness, and half of all chronic mental illnesses beginning by age 14, it’s important we offer support and guidance in place of judgement and negativity.* If you or a loved one are living with a mental illness, take a look at five ways in which you can help fight both external and internal stigmas:


Talk openly about mental health.

An important step in ending the stigma surrounding mental illness is openly talking about it. Those living with mental illness shouldn’t be shamed into silence, especially when mental illnesses are so prevalent. Talking about things like symptoms, warning signs, and treatments can be beneficial to not just those who don’t experience mental illness, but also to those who do. Sharing your experience will help normalize mental health and mental conditions.


Educate yourself and those around you.

Many stigmas surrounding mental health and mental illness often stem from misinformation. One of the best ways to fight, and end, the stigma is to simply educate yourself and anyone else who may be misinformed. There are plenty of resources that provide detailed infographics that break down the impact and prevalence of mental illnesses.


Be conscious of your language.

The way you speak about mental illness is important. Using words and phrases like ‘crazy’ and ‘mentally ill’ can be extremely harmful and further deepen discrimination against those who live with a mental illness. It’s also demeaning to use a person’s mental illness as an adjective to describe them, such as ‘she’s bipolar’ or ‘he’s schizophrenic.’ They are more than their mental illness and should be treated as such, which is why using person-centered language is a good rule of thumb to follow.


Build the bridge between mental and physical health.

When you experience a physical health problem, you are immediately encouraged to get it checked out. Why should your mental health be any different? When we put physical and mental health up against each other, we insinuate that one is more important than the other. Your mental and physical health are more connected than you think and should be treated, and spoken about, in an equal manner.


Overcome shame by choosing empowerment.

It’s easy to let society dictate how you view yourself, especially when it feels like no one really understands what you’re going through. As difficult as it may be, choosing to empower yourself instead of living in shame will not only help fight against the stigma, but also improve your self-perception and feelings of self-worth. You deserve to tell your own story. And own it.


If you’re interested in learning more about the stigma surrounding mental illness and how you can help fight against it, check out these resources:

* Information provided by The National Alliance on Mental Illness

Four Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness

« Back  |  

While the discussion around mental health has improved in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done. Misconceptions, often based on misinformation, are one of the biggest problems contributing to the uphill battle in the fight to normalize discussions about mental health. Here are four common misconceptions about mental illness and why they aren’t true:


Misconception #1: Mental illnesses aren’t real.

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘it’s all in your head’ associated with mental illness? This misconception is one of the most harmful because it implies that the symptoms surrounding mental illnesses are not valid, which makes those who are living with one feel like they don’t matter. The same way medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer are real, anxiety and depression are real and should be treated with the same level of importance and respect.


Misconception #2: Youth can’t experience mental illness.

Sadly, children and young adults are just as susceptible to mental health conditions as adults. In fact, 1 in 5 children aged 13 to 18 has, or will have, a mental illness, and 50% of all lifetime cases begin by age 14.* It’s important that we start mental health discussions early on to introduce symptoms, warning signs, and resources. Growing up comes with its ups and downs and it’s important that we teach children how to recognize when something is more serious.


Misconception #3: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

The same way physical illness is often times out of your control and based on environmental and biological factors, so is mental illness. While traumatic events and certain situations can make someone more prone to developing a mental condition, this does not make them weak—it makes them human. We need to be understanding and assure them that they are not weak, especially if they want to seek out treatment options.


Misconception #4: People living with a mental illness will never get better.

Now more than ever, there’s an abundance of resources and treatment options available for those who live with a mental health condition and want to improve their quality of life. Everyone’s journey is different, so what works for one person may not work for someone else. However, it’s important to be supportive because the recovery/healing process may not be linear, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.


If you’re interested in learning more about common misconceptions and how they’re being debunked every day, check out these resources:

*Information provided by The National Alliance on Mental Illness

Five Effective Ways to Cope With Stress

« Back  |  

Stress is a natural part of life. We experience it when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we’re dealing with new or unexpected obstacles. This is especially true when you’re navigating your teen years, trying to discover who you are and where you fit in the world.

While stress can sometimes be beneficial in pushing us through difficult situations and making us stronger, there are times when it takes a detrimental toll on both our mental and physical health.

Some common signs of stress negatively affecting you are:

  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing frequent headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating

While you may not be able to completely rid yourself of stress, there are ways to cope with it that enable you to continue moving forward without feeling like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. Here are five effective ways to manage your stress:

Get more sleep.

It’s no secret that you function better when you get enough rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should be getting anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. While it may be tempting to hit ‘yes’ when Netflix asks if you’re still watching or launch into a full-on meme war with your friends, consider reducing your screen time in exchange for more dream time.


When people tell you just 30 minutes a day of exercise makes a difference, they’re not lying! Getting active will greatly improve your mental and physical health, and the gym isn’t the only place you can get a good workout in. Try taking a dance or kickboxing class, or looking up YouTube videos you can follow along at home. One of our students discovered the power of yoga and shared how it has had a positive impact on her mental and physical well-being.

Eat healthier.

What you put into your body affects your mental health just as much as your physical health. Pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel. Do you experience more stress when eating processed foods? Are you jittery and anxious when you consume caffeine? Try cutting out foods and drinks that negatively impact your mood and fill your diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and water.

Invest time in your hobbies.

Sometimes you just need a break after the hustle and bustle of a long day or week, and this is where your hobbies come to the rescue. Make time to do the things you love because not only will it relieve stress, but it will also prevent you from completely burning out.

Open up.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to avoid feeling extremely overwhelmed is to talk about how you’re feeling. Stress can be a heavy burden to carry, especially if it’s stemming from or causing other feelings, such as loneliness or a sense of inadequacy. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a professional, open up to a parent, a friend, or even a teacher you trust. There will always be someone who is willing to listen, but the first step is asking for help.


Check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America for more information on stress and how to manage it effectively.

How One High School Student Has Taken Control of Her Education While Living With Depression

« Back  |  


Jane*, a 16-year-old sophomore, is like any other teenager. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and unwinding with hobbies such as performing and drawing. And, like any other teenager, she deals with obstacles that sometimes hinder her happiness, including her mental health.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children aged 13-18 have, or will have, a serious mental illness. Jane has been living with depression since she was 13.

“Many people struggle with depression, and I know most teens have the same struggle as I do,” Jane said. “I was in seventh grade and life just began piling up. I had always struggled with sensory processing issues, but then it started to really take a toll on me. It felt worse at school because of loud students, crowded classrooms, and the general discontent I could feel around me.”

“Many people struggle with depression, and I know most teens have the same struggle as I do.”

After discovering that being at school was a trigger, Jane and her family sought out help during her freshman year. She was determined to stay in school despite the heavy workload and lack of personalized assistance because she was worried about losing her friends and the community she had found in her drama club. But when she began to face even bigger challenges, she decided it was time to look for educational alternatives.

“The tipping point for me was the bullying,” Jane said. “I had always been bullied, but it got worse when rumors began to spread.”

Jane and her family began searching for other options, finally deciding to enroll full-time at ASU Prep Digital. This allowed her to work at her own pace, from home, on her own schedule.

“I already had one friend enrolled in ASU Prep Digital and she was enjoying it, so I decided to join too,” Jane said.

After making the switch to online school, Jane noticed a significant shift in her day-to-day life, including her mental health.

“I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my friends, separate from the drama club, dedicate more time to making art, and give myself time to just mentally unwind,” Jane said. “My mental health issues are a bit on and off, but since starting online school I’ve noticed I’ve been having less problems with my anxiety and depression than I did before and it’s been such a major relief.”

Not to mention, she’s enjoying school a lot more now, too.

“In my previous school, the teachers didn’t make an effort to care about me or my learning. All they cared about was if I was passing or not,” Jane said. “But here, I feel like my teachers genuinely care about me and they’re always reaching out to me, which I enjoy.”

For Jane, the extra care and personalized learning has allowed her to flourish. And having the time to dedicate to hobbies that help keep her grounded has been a welcome benefit.

“I do a lot of theatre in my spare time, and I love to draw,” she said. “Art is probably my biggest hobby, and I’ve even considered selling it!”


While Jane continues to find ways to keep her mind and body healthy, she asks for one thing that many teens who have experienced anxiety or depression need: patience.

“It can be difficult to express how it [depression] feels to adults, so I just ask them to be patient with me,” she said. “Taking time to understand what I’m going through when I’m feeling badly is some of the biggest help I can get.”

If you are living with a mental illness, you are not alone and your story matters. Find a list of helpful resources here. If you’re curious about whether or not online school may benefit you, we invite you to schedule a call with an admissions advisor or browse our FAQs to determine if ASU Prep Digital would be a good fit for you.

*The student’s name has been changed for this story.


How Can Online High School Benefit Students Who Suffer From Anxiety?

« Back  |  

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 25.1% of children between the ages of 13 and 18 are affected by anxiety disorders. Even more alarming, 50% of all cases of mental illness, including anxiety, begin by age 14—right when teenagers are entering and navigating their high school years.

Things such as making friends and staying on top of coursework can be more difficult for students who suffer from anxiety, which can lead to isolation and falling behind in classes. While it may not solve every problem, online high school is a viable option for students who are looking for a different environment that will enable them to excel academically and socially. Let’s explore the different facets of online high school that can benefit students who suffer from anxiety.

Working from anywhere.

We all have days where getting out of bed feels like the most exhausting task we’ll undertake. However, for a high school student suffering from anxiety, this can easily be an everyday occurrence. If a student is feeling anxious during their entire school day, it makes it difficult for them to be present and productive in their classes. Online high school gives students the flexibility of learning wherever they want and the ability to create a schedule that fits their needs. If they feel safe and secure, they will be able to concentrate better and get more done.

Learning at their own pace.

One setback of the brick-and-mortar style of education is that every student is taught at the same pace when in reality, not every student learns the same way or at the same rate. For students who suffer from anxiety, falling behind in their studies can feel overwhelming and deter his or her success. One of the major benefits of online high school is that students are able to work at their own pace, which means they can work ahead or spend a little extra time on a subject they’re stuck on. At ASU Prep Digital, we are committed to providing a personalized learning experience for all of our students. This means giving students the power to create their own schedule and providing assistance and guidance along the way to ensure success.

Additional layers of support.

It’s easy to feel invisible when you’re attending a traditional high school if you’re not connecting with your teachers or peers. For students who suffer from anxiety, this feeling is magnified. At ASU Prep Digital, we understand the importance of providing an abundance of support so that students are able to succeed in and out of the classroom. This is why we provide each student with a Learning Success Coach, in addition to providing ample opportunities for students to connect with their teachers and peers. The success coaches help their students craft schedules that align with their interests and academic goals. They also meet with them on a weekly basis to check on their progress, making each student they interact with feel supported and heard. Between teachers, success coaches, peers, and their parents, students will never feel like they’re handling everything on their own.

While switching to online high school may not solve every problem, it offers an alternative learning environment that allows students to learn on their own time, at their own pace, and surrounded by people who are invested in their success. If your child is experiencing difficulty in their current schooling, schedule a call with one of our advisors or begin the enrollment process today.