What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on height and comp cards. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Kurtis is one of those Role Models.
WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself:
K: I am a 23 year old from the East Coast. I'm an avid adventurer, accomplished skateboarder, and enjoy doing photography on the side.
WYL: What is your connection to mental illness? Why do you want to share your story?
K: My connection would be mostly with the friends/family I have, that are currently struggling with or have struggled with mental illness. Whether it be ADHD, Depression or Anxiety. As well as issues I’ve had myself. I want to share my connections to mental illness because the people with these illnesses are labeled by the illness themselves and not by the actual person they are. I cherish the friendships/connections I have, no matter the illness, because I know they're amazing people underneath the struggles they're going through. And its important that their voices be heard over the stigma that surrounds them.
WYL: How have you overcome your struggles?
K: I overcame my struggles because of help from my friends and most importantly my family. They love you and know you best, aside from whatever else you may be going through.
WYL: How do you help others overcome a mental health challenge they might be facing?
K: I let them know that I'm there for them, whenever they need. Early morning, mid-day or even late in the night. Call me, text me, anything. There should always be someone there for you, whether its friends or family.
WYL: If you could describe your mental health struggle in one word what would it be?
WYL: Why is ending the stigma important to you?
K: It's important to me because it really bothers me when people aren't treated like people because of their mental health. Everyone can be going through something, and some of us happen to be going a little bit more than the next person. It's unfair to be treated like less of a person because you've been labeled with a certain mental health issue. End the stigma, we're all human.
WYL: How do you take care of yourself?
K: I surround myself with positive people who strive to be better and do better. And I try to keep myself busy, and focus on having an outlet when times get tough. For example, when I get overwhelmed I get some friends together and go skateboard, or I would go on a photo mission with some friends.
WYL: If you had 30 seconds to share a message with the entire world, what would it be?
K: Healing doesn't mean the damage or pain never existed, it just means you're not letting it control your life anymore.
Photos by: Kelsey Schroeder