More than 200 young women at an empowerment conference held at Seton Hall University yesterday were spellbound by the speaker — international boxing champion, Mia St. John.
But St. John was detailing her struggles outside of the ring.
“Two and a half years ago my son committed suicide and my son was also an addict,” she said.
Her biggest battle was with mental illness, both her own and in her family: alcoholism, drug use, obsessive compulsive disorder. Now she shares her story with young women to encourage them to open a dialogue about mental health without fear of judgement.
“You’re not a monster, you know, reach out and get help. If you’re feeling suicidal, reach out to someone. There are others, and I’m an example, there are others that have these disorders and you can still accomplish something great in life. You can still accomplish your dreams,” said St. John.
There’s strong research from the Child Mind Institute suggesting teenage girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression as boys. And that puts them at greater risk for mood disorders as they become adults.
“We want to teach them as soon as possible, prevention is part of this program, so the sooner we can get them the better it is for us,” said Manuela Garcia, executive director of the Family Service Bureau of Newark, which sponsored the conference.
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