Gabe Webster speaks about mental health at Friends R Family event


Allyson Jones and Maddie Root

There is a lot of stigma around mental health. It is often unspoken and an uncomfortable, sensitive topic to speak about. Mental health issues are looked at in a negative light which impacts people from reaching out about these issues and getting the help they need.

Gabe Webster ‘16, a testimonial speaker and JC alum, spoke at the Friends R Family event on April 22 at JC. Students and teachers could attend in-person or online as the event was live-streamed.
Gabe not only spoke about his story with mental health, but he spoke of his younger brother’s as well. Gabe’s brother, Teddy, lost his life to suicide four years ago.
He said, “I began speaking to tell my and my brother’s story. It began as something extremely basic, but in seeing the response that many people have had to the story, I realized that I may be able to help people at least by hearing that somebody else struggles. I guess in the simplest way, I’m sharing my struggles loudly so that people who struggle in silence know they aren’t alone in what they feel.”
At the event, Gabe discussed his own personal struggles with depression. Growing up, he was bullied in school, which caused him to be become severely depressed. He explained, “At the age of nine-years-old, I attempted to take my own life.”
Gabe reached out and got the help that he needed. However, Gabe struggled with finding a therapy that he connected with. He finally discovered that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy worked for him. He described it as a “meditation process.”
Gabe is very passionate about mental health and being open about it with others. When his brother passed away, Gabe knew exactly what he needed to do.
He said, “I knew in that instant that I wanted to build something. I was living to build a legacy for him.”
In 2020, Gabe started speaking about his journey with mental health. He speaks for Michael’s Giving Hand, an awareness nonprofit organization for teens suffering with mental health issues based in Philadelphia. The “Hand” stands for “Handling Anxiety, Navigating Depression.
Gabe describes John Carroll as his “home.” He explained that many teachers had a positive impact on him, specifically, Mr. Larry Hensley. “Larry Hensley 100% changed my life,” he said.
At the end of his speech, he addressed his audience. “I want each and every one of you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to feel free to be yourselves.”
Gabe encourages students who may be struggling to reach out to teachers, peers, parents, counselors, or other trusted adults. Remember, you are not alone.