About 50 children packed into one of the meeting rooms at the Boys & Girls Club’s SIerra Vista Clubhouse in Canyon Country on Monday afternoon to hear local therapist Tanyika Moore and actor Issac Ryan Brown discuss mental health during the #NoStigmasAllowed event.
This is the second year that the Boys & Girls Club has hosted the #NoStigmasAllowed discussion, which was created by Billy Johnson last year with a grant from the California Mental Health Services Authority and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. This year’s topic focused on rejection, and anxiety, and how to overcome them.
“I wanted to try to destigmatize mental health by normalizing it and I thought that it would be good to involve a celebrity because kids look up to celebrities, and if a celebrity can talk about anxiety and depression then kids might understand that it is normal to go through these things,” Johnson said. “I relate to this personally and I had never been to therapy until a few years ago and really enjoyed the ability to talk to someone who is unbiased.”
Breana Rabbach, team coordinator and director at the Boys & Girls Club, said she feels it is important to start teaching kids about mental health while they are young, especially in the context of the modern challenges they may face.
“Last month was mental health awareness month so we’re tying this event to that,” Rabbach said. “Our kids and teens are dealing with so much more due to social media technology and it’s becoming more acceptable to openly talk about these issues. We’re getting to the point where bullying and bullying on social media has become so prevalent, and kids don’t always have an opportunity to talk about these things so we think it’s important to have events and safe spaces like this.”
Rabbach added that the topic of rejection is particularly apt for the children and teens she works with many of them are coming to the age when they will start receiving rejections, for example from sports teams or when trying to make friends, and she feels that it’s important to teach kids that rejection is a normal part of life.
Brown, who is 13 years old and stars in the Disney Channel show “Raven’s Home” alongside Raven Simone, spoke with Moore about his experiences being rejected from roles and the anxiety of being so far away from his family in their hometown of Detroit. He said that by talking about mental health in a positive environment, people create an awareness of mental health resources and help remove some of the social taboo that has often accompanied mental health issues.
“I used to do five auditions every day for five days a week and sometimes on weekends, and out of all of those I would maybe only get two or three roles, so I’m very familiar with rejection. What actor isn’t?” Brown said. “Just because these are kids doesn’t mean that they don’t have experiences with mental health issues. I feel overjoyed that I get to come and talk to people my own age about this topic and help make them aware.”