We are the Anthem Youth Advisory Council, a handpicked group of 13 individuals who were chosen by the Anthem Community Council to be the voice of the youth in our area. We work to improve the conditions of our peers and help our community.
This year, AYAC’s focus is to raise awareness about mental illnesses. According to the Mental Health Foundation, about 450 million people suffer from mental illnesses, framing mental disorders as one of the leading causes of disability around the world. Nearly two-thirds of people with mental illnesses never seek help from a health professional. Arizona ranked 49th among states for providing access to mental health care, according to the non-profit group Mental Health America.
There is a negative stigma around mental health that leaves many people feeling ashamed or uneducated about their illnesses.
Our biggest event this year was our booth at Anthem Days, where we set up a trivia wheel with different mental illnesses. We would then ask people a question on this topic or offer a fact to educate them and promote our mission. We received positive feedback from the people of Anthem and they were impressed with us for taking on such a bold topic.
Our next event will be at Music in May on May 4, to give a speech about our initiative, give out our “you have a voice” bracelets, and interact with residents. We want to connect with the people of Anthem and continue to encourage them to help end the negativity around mental illnesses.
Do you know any Anthem teens who might be interested in joining the AYAC? Encourage them to apply online at www.onlineatanthem.com/AYAC. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on May 11.
— Pranati Guduru, Anthem Youth Advisory Council Member