Confronting Teen Stress & Anxiety

Kat Campisi shined a spotlight on student stress and anxiety and won a scholarship for her frank essay about a topic many people prefer to ignore.

"It's a topic I'm passionate about," Kat said. "It's something that's overlooked as a health issue. People think about obesity or the environment, but mental health gets overlooked when it's one of the biggest issues in young people."

Kat's mom told her about the essay contest sponsored by the Culture to Culture Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting mental health and emotional wellness within the Bay Area's growing Asian-American community.

Students were encouraged to write about a mental health issue facing today's youth. Kat, a senior, chose stress and anxiety because those problems so greatly affect today's students who are under immense pressure to excel.

"The prompt was to describe the biggest mental health issue about your peers and yourself," Kat explained. "There was an overwhelming response about stress and anxiety. Some people wrote about schizophrenia or depression, but it was overwhelmingly about stress and anxiety."

Kat, 17, was one of 10 Bay Area students out of 127 entrants to win $500 college scholarships. Ten other students won $100 scholarships.

"It was really amazing to be recognized for something I feel passionate about," Kat said. "I've seen my friends feel stressed, and I've been really stressed, but most people don't notice unless they're close to somebody (who's stressed). People hide it because they feel ashamed and they shouldn't."

Kat's essay focused on "my personal insights through having anxiety and to let people know that it's important to take each moment individually and to get through each moment and that they're not alone."

Kat also is part of a short video promoting mental health awareness that the foundation will make available to health classes.

Kat plans to attend a four-year college and study food science, such as food production or quality control, with an emphasis in dairy. Cal Poly and UC Davis are among her top college picks. She's active in the band's colorguard, the California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society and the Our Movement club.

"I'm really honored to have received (the award)," she said. "I hope that through the project, people see that they're not alone and that there's no shame in feeling stress and anxiety."

Kat Campisi at the awards ceremony at San Ramon's Dougherty Valley High School with foundation founder Chia-Chia Chien. Photo courtesy of Maryann Campisi.

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013