The amount of stigma that people with mental illnesses face is significant. That's because those battling diseases like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and anorexia usually can't show their pain — or in many cases, the chemical imbalances in their brains — on the outside, and so they're often left defending themselves and feeling alone.
But they definitely aren't: 61.5 million adults in the U.S. experience mental illness every year. According to a 2010 survey of 67,500 people, adults ages 18 to 25 accounted for 32 percent of people living with mental illness.
Despite those high numbers, people who have these illnesses often still struggle with the notion that what they're feeling isn't real, or that they can just get over it, or be happy.
That's why Jenny Jaffe, a comedy writer in New York City, founded UROK, a nonprofit organization with the intent to destigmatize mental illness and make young adults, teen in particular, feel feel less alone.
Jaffe and her team asked young adults and teens who have struggled or still struggle with mental illness, from depression to anorexia, to talk about their illness and encourage others to get help.
In the video below, recent Barnard grad and writer Brooke Jaffe discusses her struggle with depression.
"[Depression] sort of takes over the stream of thought as I'm going along any given thing and says everything's terrible and the world is a terrible place and this is why. And then it proceeds to pretend it is the only way the world can be seen," Jaffe says.
She explains that she didn't get help because she wanted to be strong and wanted to take care of it without anyone else's help. "I thought that's what made me strong," she admitted. But then she realized that getting help doesn't mean you're weak.
"Seeking out help is important and doesn't mean you can't handle it," she says.
Jake Plunkett, who works for Saturday Night Live, battled anorexia.
"It was like stepping on the scale every two minutes, every three minutes," Plunkett, who struggled with weight as a kid, tells the camera of his anorexia. "It all came to a head when I was at a doctor's office, getting a routine blood test, took the blood test, went outside and collapsed."
Though mental illnesses such as eating disorders and addiction are more action-based, choosing to eat or not to eat or choosing to use or not to use, they are still diseases due to the altered brain chemicals that feed the addiction and still requires help from others.
Bottom line: "No matter what you're going through, you are okay."