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Positively Alaskan: Students tell stories to normalize mental health conversations

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:28 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A group of students in the Anchorage area is telling their stories of mental health struggles to normalize the conversation around the topic.

Mental Health Advocacy Through Storytelling, or MHATS, is a high school student-led storytelling group working toward reducing the stigma and opening conversations about mental health.

The organization was started two years ago when former West High School student Natalie Fraser came up with the idea.

“We need a way to talk about mental health in a productive way,” she said. “I struggled a lot with mental health in high school, and then I saw my friends have the same struggles. And when you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, you feel so so alone.”

She started the organization with friends and soon enough, they were up on stage telling strangers their struggles.

Every semester, MHATS members meet up every other week. For about half a semester, the group has conversations and works toward educating participants about mental health. After the first five sessions, they start working on their stories.

“Letting people know that they are in a place where they’re not going to be judged for their mental health where everyone else is in the same boat,” said organization founder and co-facilitator Zoe Kaplan. “Their stories really, really helps.”

Atticus Rosen saw one of the shows and thought delivering his own message would be therapeutic.

“Any mental health problem is real,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how little or big you think it is, it matters just as much as the next one.”

MHATS is open to teens 14 years old to 18. You can reach them at mhatsinfo@gmail.com.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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