SAN ANTONIO – A local teenager is putting down her smartphone and picking up a paintbrush to raise awareness to mental health problems in schools.
Life is a canvas. Each brushstroke is a setback, a success, a story.
“It’s a way to clear my mind,” 17-year-old Jazmyn Frederick says. “A lot of my work is about finding myself and finding where home is and where I belong.”
She only recently started painting to express the feelings that stem from taunts and cyberbullying.
“It’s so not talked about it. And that’s not okay because so many of us deal with it,” Frederick says. “If so many of us deal with it, why not talk about it?”
She fought depression, anxiety and the pressure to be Pinterest-perfect.
“I would always tell my mom I had a force in my hand and I could never get the force out,” Frederick says. “I would get different blades and stuff and I would cut my arms and I would feel like the force was coming through.”
She was harming herself behind closed doors, while in public being told to grow thicker skin.
“That made me more mad because it was like, you really don’t want to support me in this,” Frederick says. “You don’t want to help me. You’re just telling me I’m a wussy.”
She got medical help to fight her demons and switched school. Now, the senior at Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design is committed to shattering the stigma of mental illness.
“A Beautiful Mind Art Event,” Frederick reads from her hand-painted poster. “It’s the title of the show.”
She’s planning an art fair where she’ll team up with local nonprofits.
“A lot of times I think as adults, as much as we want to help kids and we want to be there for them and we want to educate them – it means so much more when one of their own comes forward and says we’ve got to take a stand against this,” Elizabeth Lutz with The Health Collaborative says.
For Frederick, art is the release she was looking for – but the canvas won’t be complete until she helps other students who are still suffering in silence.
“There’s going to be little side conversations of how to move onto this, how to deal with it in the home,” Frederick says.
The art fair will take place Saturday, May 7, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the San Antonio Clubhouse located at 6851 Citizens Parkway near Loop 410 and Fredericksburg Road. The Clubhouse is a nonprofit that helps people with mental illness.