A group of teen storytellers is raising awareness about mental illness through a national teen show called "This Is My Brave."
This Is My Brave went virtual during the pandemic, and this weekend, high school students from across the country will be taking the stage to share their personal accounts with others through song, dance and poetry.
Seventeen-year-old Jada Bromberg, a junior at W. T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County, channeled her pain through pen and paper, writing music and playing the piano to cope.
"I started songwriting when I was 13 once I was going through my depressive episodes,” Jada said.
This weekend, she will be featured in the show and perform one of her original songs in front of an audience of strangers.
“It really takes you through my mental health journey from the very beginning of it and the depth of my emotions and how hard it was at the time. I was struggling with self-harm and I was really losing my sense of who I was,” Jada said.
Eighteen-year-old Anastasia Vlasova, a senior at South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, struggled with depression and an eating disorder and spent years suffering in silence.
“I personally always felt so alone because growing up in NoVa, in this ultra-competitive environment where I feel like perfectionism is something that everyone is striving towards, no one really talks about the struggle that they're enduring,” Vlasova said.
Now, she’s using her voice to empower others as one of the show’s producers and host for the “Brave Wave” podcast, a part of This Is My Brave.
“You can still be thriving and succeeding. You can be academically and athletically ambitious and still be struggling with your mental health. That's OK, because it's all part of being human,” Vlasova said.
Program manager and moderator Erin Gallagher lost her teenage son Jay to suicide in 2016 and speaks openly about her heartache in hopes of educating others. She said she knows storytelling can save lives.
"It makes me wish that Jay could have heard some of these stories so that he could have felt less alone,” Gallagher said. “I’m hoping that with other kids, that they can hear what we're doing and hear the stories of these teens and feel inspired to start conversations, to tell their own stories and ask for the help that they need if they need it.”
The first-ever This is My Brave show is Sunday at 8 p.m. featuring 10 storytellers, plus a live question-and-answer session afterward.
For tickets and more information, visit thisismybrave.org.
“Every single person that's going to be impacted by this show, it's change in at least one person's life because it has to start somewhere,” Jada said.