Like most seniors winding down the final weeks of their last school year, Annapolis Area Christian School student Myles Henderson keeps pretty busy.
He’s narrowing down his choice for college in the fall. He swims for his school and club teams. And of course, he makes time for his family and his friends.
Given his busy schedule, there’s precious little free time for Myles. So you may wonder why he chose to spend an entire Saturday at the B’More Healthy Expo. After all, how many 17 year olds would willingly spend an entire beautiful spring day inside at a health expo?
Myles volunteered his time with the Mental Health Association of Maryland to help educate expo attendees about mental health and bullying.
“I thought that it would offer me an opportunity to talk with other people about something that’s very important to me: mental health. It was an amazing experience,” said Myles.
Myles’ journey with mental health awareness actually began as a freshman in high school.
To Myles, it appeared mental health issues were being talked about everywhere. On the news. In his school. In his church. Among his friends and peers.
“I could see it was a big problem in the world. I knew kids who were depressed,” recalled Myles.
So he made it his mission to learn as much as he could about mental health and how he could help others.
He first started to pay closer attention to his friends and their wellbeing. If he sensed that they needed someone to talk to, he was there for them.
Myles was also motivated by his faith, something that always offered him a compass in life and fueled his compassion for other people.
By his senior year, mental health had grown into a full-fledged passion for Myles.
For his senior year project, he decided to focus on bullying as his topic.
“A lot of bullying takes place in middle school and high school,” said Myles. “I heard about and saw bullying and the effect it had on kids. This includes my friend groups. Often it starts with just one person and spreads fast because more and more people start talking about it. But things can be avoided if people would just care and avoid putting people down.”
Myles’ project gave him the opportunity to take a deep dive into bullying and better understand its causes. He noted that social media is a definite contributing factor, which is why he focuses on that in his own relationships.
Like most teenagers, Myles spends a significant amount of time in the digital world, using apps such as Snapchat to communicate with his friends. He became aware that he could detect clues about the feelings of a particular friend through their story feed and posts.
“I hope that my research will help people understand more about bullying and its impact. I want to raise awareness about all of the mental health issues in society that can come from bullying, such as depression,” said Myles.
Myles’ project also gave him the opportunity to talk to kids directly about bullying, an aspect he especially enjoyed. He gains satisfaction out of helping others. In fact, he plans to major in psychology in college and dedicate his professional career to mental health.
That’s what also made that Saturday at the B’More Healthy Expo so meaningful.
“I think MHAMD is doing a lot of good work. There are other people who care about the way people feel,” he said. “Kids’ mental health matters. We need to make them feel valuable.”
And how would he tell someone how much they matter?
“I would say how much they matter to other people and how much they matter to me.”