Courtalis aims to break mental health stigmas

Madison Elliott, News Editor

Alexa Courtalis is using her Senior Project to help “break the stigmas that go along with mental health,” and “be someone people can lean on, so they can possibly fight the disorder and get help.”

The project itself incorporates her passion towards mental health and her goal of becoming a pediatrician.
For the project, Alexa has spent time conducting several interviews, including one with a victim who lost a loved one due to suicide and a pediatrician regarding her job — more specifically, “the steps it took to get there and what she sees with mental health in adolescents.”
With each interview, Alexa is able to get a new perspective that helps toward her project and knowledge. After completing each interview, the information she collects “will be added into the presentation. I am planning to have a slide on each person and another slide or two about their story and how it affected them,” she said.
Although she herself has not personally dealt with mental health issues, she is “aware of how common it is, and more specifically, how common it is among adolescents.” That is part of her reason for choosing this project.
Another influence to her choosing her project was after the loss of a close family friend who took his own life. The impact of this loss was so sudden, as it has now “impacted her forever.”
“I constantly ask, why? Because it just never makes sense why young people, or anyone takes themselves out of this precious life,” Alexis said.
After taking on this project, she has been able to grasp a new understanding to the questions she was stuck asking herself.
One of her biggest takeaways was that “mental health effects everyone differently.” Appearance on the outside cannot lead to any certainty of how people are doing on the inside, so it is important and common “to be checking on your peers because one small ‘How are you doing?’ can save a life.”
The interviews were the initial step in the project, but this was also the most challenging part for Alexa. It was difficult for her to find time to talk between the interviewees and herself.
Her favorite part has been “hearing the stories and really reflecting on them. I am doing it for the community but didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have on me,” she said.
The current state of the project is completing interviews and beginning her presentation, adding pictures, and extra information.
The final project will be published in newspapers, made into a binder to put on social media for others, and added to a small book Alexis will be writing.
As for what she hopes others take away from her project, she said, “It is okay to speak out and get help. I mean this for all ages and genders, but mostly with guys. There is a stigma that guys suffer the most from [mental health issues] and are the least likely to speak out, while being the most likely to follow through with suicide.”
In her future, Alexa would like to be a doctor where she can, hopefully, continue working towards breaking stigmas revolving around the above scenarios.
“The world is full of support, and you are never alone,” Alexa said.