As he first tells it, Drew Bergman sounds like he grew up as a typical teenager. The youngest of three siblings, successful parents, a solid student, typical. You’d never guess he tried to kill himself twice by 16.
“The first attempt happened when I was 12,” Bergman said at a presentation to students at South Fort Myers High School on Monday. “I loved soccer, I had friends, my grades were average, and I was convinced no one would miss me if I was gone.”
Bergman, now 25, was visiting South as part of Minding Your Mind, a mental health advocacy group out of Philadelphia that pushes for mental health reform and to normalize the discussion and the necessity of the discussion about mental health issues in school aged children.
According to Mental Health America, one in five people have a mental disorder of some kind, which averages out to around 40 million Americans. 76 percent of youth have little to no access to proper treatment for anxiety, depression or other mental disorders. It’s a problem that has grown astronomically out of control in both adults and children.
“Mental health is just as important as physical, you don’t tell a guy with a broken leg it’s in his head,” Bergman said. “It has to be treated professionally.”
Since the February tragedy Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland where 17 students were killed by a former student, mental health issues have been a forefront issue in state and national politics. On Friday, Governor Rick Scott signed a $500 million piece of legislation to deal with gun control, school safety, and mental health.
“These talks and our programs at Minding Your Mind have been in development and touring for several years now, but when tragedies happen, it’s hard to not look like you’re on the bandwagon,” Bergman said.
Bergman ended his segment with advice both personal and professional, about certain lifestyle changes that can preserve mental health and improve it. Try to eat a little healthier, keep to a strict sleep schedule, and be social. With regards to anxiety it’s all obviously a comfort level thing, but you should always have a couple of “trusted adults”, people whom you can speak with to try and externalize thoughts and feelings without feeling destructive or singled out.
“It’s an important balance, you have to maintain a set of rules for yourself to even start making things better but start small and work yourself slowly towards being the best you,” he said.
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