1 in 5 Teenagers and Young Adults Suffer from Mental Illness-Digital Books Offer Support: Cameron's Collection Helps Teens in Charlottesville High School Understand and Manage Depression, Stress, Anxiety and More

District Administration, June 2018 | Go to article overview

1 in 5 Teenagers and Young Adults Suffer from Mental Illness-Digital Books Offer Support: Cameron's Collection Helps Teens in Charlottesville High School Understand and Manage Depression, Stress, Anxiety and More


Across the US, the number of teen suicides has risen dramatically over the years. Whether it's the stress of high-level courses or the anxiety of divorcing parents, a staggering amount of students are overcrowding school counseling centers, says Psychology Today. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 teenagers and young adults suffer from mental illness.

"It might even be higher here," says Anne Ernst, library media specialist at Charlottesville High School in central Virginia. "There are a lot of kids living in poverty or dealing with family issues. There's also lot of pressure and stress to succeed, to take AP classes to get into top-tier colleges."

To help navigate these and other mental health issues, Charlottesville students now have access to Cameron's Collection, a series of e-books that offer resources and strategies to help teens or loved ones. So far, members of the school's international community and students who have experienced trauma as refugees are frequent users. Students can privately access and search for specific terms within the books through smartphones or computers.

"I have a lot of students who quietly ask me for a book about depression or something, and I show them how to use these," Ernst says. "It is a great relief because privacy is so important. A kid who's exploring their mental health, dealing with cyberbullying or researching depression doesn't necessarily want to walk around with a book."

Namesake dreamed about awareness

The collection is named in honor of Cameron Gallagher. She was a bright, talented young girl battling depression and anxiety whose dream was to raise awareness and to help erase the stigma about the topic. At the age of 16, she suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition. Her legacy and efforts live on through the Cameron K. …

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