Approximately 200 community members came out to hear six brave speakers share their stories of struggle and survival and later participated in a discussion with parent panelists and mental health professionals.
(Click on the photos to see video from each panel member)
My name is Allie. I am a senior at Annandale HS and have been dealing with anxiety and depression since I was 11, but since then I have found many effective ways of coping with these issues.
I’m Anna. I’m a Woodson HS graduate and I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for six years, but have recently found new ways of looking at my life and experiences.
My name is Ethan and I graduated from Westfield HS in 2013. I struggled with anxiety and being suicidal for a number of years, but now I work with many organizations that help kids that go through what I went through.
I’m Sara. I’m a Woodson Alumni from the class of 2010 and I’ve been working to coexist with my depression and anxiety for several years. I got help early on, but the road to now wasn’t an easy one.
My name is Chris and I should have graduated from Langley HS in 2003 except for the fact that I was a drug addict. I now run a business helping other addicts and a non-profit helping fund treatment for addiction.
Hi, I’m Hanna. I’m a normal teenager – I love acting, singing and playing sports but I also have to deal with anxiety and depression. I now hope to spread the word about mental health awareness in my pageant work.
Dr. Adelaide Robb – is a psychopharmacologist with ongoing research studies in mood disorders, schizophrenia, and post traumatic stress disorder, and Chief of the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health at the Children’s National Health System which aims to combine psychological and psychiatric services to treat the medically ill child.
Dr. Heather Tedesco – is an applied psychologist with a specialized practice working directly with parents to improve their family’s day-to-day life and to support the long- term development of happy, authentically successful children.
Chris Bennett – Chris’ adolescence was marred by involuntarily committal to various drug and at-risk, out-of-control adolescent rehabilitations including a wilderness program, expulsion from multiple schools and frequent arrests. Fastfoward seven years later and notwithstanding some hiccups in his path of recovery, Chris entered a state of continual sobriety. Since dedicating his life to recovery, he found his true passion which was to support those who were suffering from the depths of mental illness, addiction and the addiction fueled lifestyle in receiving the help that they deserve. Intervention and consulting work is his passion and true calling in life.
Cristy Gallagher – is a tremendous resource for parents just beginning to navigate the special needs parenting maze. As a parent of two children with special needs, Cristy is very familiar with the special education system in Fairfax County and how to find providers in the Northern Virginia area. An outspoken advocate on the needs for mental health services for children, Cristy has advocated at the local, state, and federal level and has been quoted in national and local papers on the need for more children’s mental health services and been on local radio programs. Trained by NAMI, Cristy runs a parent support group in Fairfax for parents with younger children (under 25) with mental illness. She serves on the NAMI Virginia Board, the Virginia Family Network’s Board and is active the NAMI Northern Virginia chapter and advocacy group, “Concerned Fairfax”.