In an effort to end the stigma around mental health, notable musicians, actors and health professionals will spend the next few weeks visiting the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley to talk to children about mental wellness.
In partnership with the California Mental Health Services Authority and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, event organizer Billy Johnson Jr. and his company Media & Repertoire will produce a four-part mental health series, offering Karli Webster, a contestant on season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice,” and Xolo Maridueña, a co-star of the show “Cobra Kai,” a chance to discuss anxiety and suicide prevention with SCV youth.
Maridueña is scheduled to speak at next week’s event from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, but Webster made an appearance on Friday at the Boys & Girls Club that neighbors her former school, Sierra Vista Junior High.
Joined by Certified Grief Specialist Sharon Brubaker, Webster discussed how she uses her songwriting to combat anxiety. The talk was the first in the #NoStigmasAllowed “Everyone Deserves Mental Wellness” discussion series, which aims to help children destigmatize mental health issues.
Webster, an SCV native, started off the discussion by asking children their thoughts on mental health and stigmas.
Many children in attendance said they know something about anxiety, and some shared they had personal experiences helping others handle an attack or similar situation.
“I experienced a lot of the tough stuff you guys are experiencing right now,” Webster told the audience after Brubaker shared the 43 types of grief known to cause sadness.
“Sometimes, people don’t want to talk about the hard things,” Webster said.
She spoke of a time when she was too ashamed to share her feelings with her brother, despite the fact he was going through the same situation that was causing her grief.
“I’ve suffered with anxiety attacks for a long time,” Webster said. “It started with small things, but grew over time until it was uncontrollable.”
“We have absolutely no idea what she’s going through,” Brubaker said.
“Sometimes it’s better to sit there,” she added, offering advice. Don’t try to fix it and, certainly, don’t say they’re making it up or they aren’t feeling it.
The grief specialists said loss is cumulative, meaning if people don’t deal with their sadness, then it will continue to grow with sorrow.
“Singing has always been a source of relief,” Webster said. She wrote songs that allowed her to take the negative energy from her heart and put it out into the world, even if she wasn’t ready to share her feelings with actual people.
“I was thankful I had a teacher who could help,” Webster said, “because friends might not always understand or feel the same way.”
Having a teacher to go to and express those things to was great, she said, encouraging the audience to find somebody in their life that won’t judge.
“We can’t always fix everything,” Brubaker said, “but we can always be good friends and listen.”