Project UROK, a video-based nonprofit, has teamed up with a handful of celebrities to bring awareness to mental illness. Most notably, Mara Wilson has made a video that details her experience growing up with a series of mental illnesses, and the things she wish someone told her when she was too young to understand them.
I wish somebody had told me that it’s OK to be anxious — that you don’t have to fight it, that in fact fighting it is this thing that makes it worse, that pushing it away is really what it is. It’s the fear of fear.
She also says that she still feels some of these things as an adult, but is able to process and understand them in a way that helps others. Every month, she hosts a show called “What Are You Afraid Of?” that addresses fears and phobias, and finds a way to laugh at them. She also uses the show as an opportunity to teach breathing exercises as a way of calming yourself down, and shows us her technique in this video.
This project is important because 20% of teens live with a mental illness, and that number doesn’t include those who may not know they have them. The power of projects like RUOK is that you’re hearing about mental illness from inspiring people who have first hand experience.
Mara ends the video with an important message:
I think that that’s something to keep in mind that, you know, you are not the only one who has this. Other people can and have fought these battles before. So the important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and you are OK.
Because of people like Mara, teens with mental illness with no longer feel that sense of isolation that their illness heavily perpetuates. Her words are powerful and Matilda would be proud.