'You Are Enough': Deerfield High Senior Starts Mental Health Nonprofit

December 30, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

DEERFIELD, IL — Growing up, Adison Schwartz thought her grandmother, Sandy, had passed away from cancer before she was born. But at the age of 12, the Deerfield High School senior found out that her loved one had actually died by suicide, and the reality soon led Schwartz on a mission.

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“He [her father] mentioned his belief that had there been less negative stigma and secrecy regarding her battle with depression, she could have activated a broader support network to help her,” Schwartz recently told Patch. “My grandma’s story, combined with the struggles of many of my peers and my own struggles of anxiety caused by the isolation created by the pandemic, solidified my purpose.”

Schwartz, 17, soon became a mental health advocate and has become dedicated to doing her part to “help prevent others from feeling this same way” as her grandmother. She founded You Are Enough, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded, based, and operated out of Deerfield by teens and for teens.

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“Our mission is to promote conversations about mental health and implement safe spaces within local communities so that students can relax, recharge, and reset without feeling alone or stigmatized,” Schwartz said.

To accomplish this, Schwartz and YAE have been creating wellness centers, which are funded, designed and implemented by the organization. She said the school spaces are staffed by a trauma interventionist to maximize the impact of the room for all students. Schwartz hopes to eventually expand into under-resourced communities and get a wellness room in every high school across the country.

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“At You Are Enough, we believe that mental health is often overlooked as an essential requirement of happy living, especially during this day and age when so many teens are anxious, depressed, and struggling with day-to-day challenges,” Schwartz said. “At You Are Enough, we believe this phrase will remind people of their self-worth and reassure them that they are not struggling alone.”

Schwartz is quick to praise Deerfield High School and Township High School District 113 for the advances they continue to make in promoting mental health advocacy.

“I and the YAE board presented a proposal to the District administration and board which outlined the creation of a You Are Enough-branded wellness center in my school,” Schwartz said. “We immediately received positive feedback and support throughout all the steps along the way.”

Schwartz and YAE outfitted a room at DHS that provides quiet games, art, aromatherapy, yoga and monthly speakers. She said they also have a comfort dog that visits once a week to “help students take their minds off the pressures of high school.” YAE’s first official “Mental Wellness Center” officially opened last month at DHS. There are multiple students utilizing the wellness space each day, according to Schwartz.

Next month, Schwartz has been invited to deliver remarks at The Jed Foundation’s fourth annual gala in Delray Beach, Florida. JED is also a nonprofit that “protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults in the United States.” It was founded in 2000 by Phil and Donna Satow after their youngest son, Jed, died by suicide in college in 1998.

According to JED, 22 percent of high school students reported having serious thoughts of suicide over the past year, with 10 percent having made an attempt to take their lives. Suicide remains the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 34 in the U.S.

I mostly felt a strong sense of accomplishment,” Schwartz said of finding out she would speak at the gala. “All my work had finally paid off, and I was being recognized for the work that I had dedicated so much time towards. I was also elated to share my story and mission with a crowd who were equally as passionate as myself about the cause.”

For the upcoming talk, Schwartz will discuss what her organization is and how she was partially inspired by an influence on TikTok at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine.

“I am also planning on talking about the steps I had to take as a high schooler who founded YAE entirely on my own and how it has been managing it, balancing it with my schoolwork, extracurricular activities, college apps, social life, etc.,” said Schwartz, who also plans to talk about Grandma Sandy.

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