May is Mental Health Awareness month and with everything going on in the world this past year and a half, it’s as great a time as any to spotlight this important topic. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM) is currently assisting in raising awareness for mental health issues and best practices for coping and healing. Mental health is one of those things that is important to everyone: adults, teens, and children alike and we all can benefit from taking inventory of our minds’ health. Because of that, we wanted to shine light on a special youth who has played a significant role in mental health awareness.
The 2021 Youth of the Year, Jeremiah has been a part of BGCSM for roughly ten years. His grandmother was the director of the Dauch Club, so for his sixth birthday, both his grandparents gifted him with a membership, and he has been actively involved ever since. While Jeremiah has been a positive active member in several areas at BGCSM, the subject of mental health is something that is near and dear to his heart.
Jeremiah recently collaborated with Deviate, a Detroit-based clothing line, for their Hero’s Journey Campaign, a campaign focused on sharing mental health awareness stories of individuals within the community. We were able to sit with Jeremiah and gain some insight on his participation in the campaign, experiences with his own mental health practices, and journey to ensuring youth have access to mental wellness resources in school and at the Club.
BGCSM News: Can you tell us about your growth journey and discovery of mental health awareness?
Jeremiah: “I suffered through mental health throughout my life. I was bullied and I’m autistic, so I’ve dealt with mental health problems throughout my life as it relates to depression, anger, and sadness. I’ve been through them all. But I kind of got over it and it’s made me a better person. I want young people to see that they may go through this too but there are healthy ways to cope and it’s ok to feel the way you do.”
BGCSM News: can you explain what the Hero’s Journey Campaign is?
Jeremiah: This Hero’s Journey Campaign is very big. When Mr. Shawn and Mr. Chris came to me and asked me if I would like to work with Deviate, I immediately was on board because I knew this was a great opportunity to spread the word of mental health around southeastern Michigan, or across the state of Michigan. So, it was so huge for me, especially for me to just allow these stories to come out and give exposure to this topic.”
BGCSM News: What is your goal with this campaign and hope for other will gain from it?
Jeremiah: My goal is to help others who may be struggling and don’t know how to deal with it. I wish to be a gateway in assisting them to get the help they need. I went through a stage of not knowing if I was sad or just depressed. I got help from my school therapist and they gave me the resources to get the help I needed. My goal is to give [others] that gateway: a therapist or motivational speaker or even just a one-on-one conversation to share what they went through themselves. I wish to be an advocate for mental health, especially in his current community.
BGCSM News: Do you have any advice for those looking better their mental health?
Jeremiah: My advice to those looking for the first step in healthy mental living is this: have a positive mindset. As cliche as it may sound, keeping your mind focused on the positive things does make a difference. He used the example of a rainy day. Although it may have a negative effect on his plans, he can focus on the great things he can do inside with those he loves. If he experiences a death in his family, he tries to remember the good times. Jeremiah believes there is almost always something good that can come out of a situation. You just have to pause long enough to see it.
BGCSM News: Any word of encouragement?
Jeremiah: I encourage others to find people in their lives who can be a positive influence. When you have the right people around, they are a tremendous help to anything you may be going through. I have my family, friends, teachers, and BGCSM staff who have helped me along the way. Whether it was them teaching me valuable lessons or them just making me laugh when I was having a bad day, they overall just kept me in the right mindset for a long period of time.
In the end, Jeremiah just desires to make an impact in the community. “I definitely do want to be an advocate for mental health when it’s all said and done, especially in our community where it’s very easy for someone to be sad or have anger issues. Being an advocate in this community will definitely be a major thing I try to focus on.”
BGCSM partnered with Deviate and the Sean Anderson Foundation to create the Affirmation Bag and raise awareness surrounding mental health. 50% of proceeds will be donated to BGCSM to go towards mental health programming for youth.