Mississippi teen face of national Macy’s Youth Mental Health campaign

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A 15-year-old from Starkville is getting attention for her courage to talk openly about her mental health status. Now, she is part of a national campaign to end the stigma among young people.

Last year around this time, a few weeks into the school year, 15-year-old Alex Jones realized something was different.

“It was really rough for me,” Jones said. “I’m a really social person, and with the pandemic happening and not being able to see people and now coming back, it was really a turn, I would say. It was pretty stressful.”

Suddenly her bubbly personality was thrust into a space that she wasn’t used to. The student-athlete also felt the pressure of performing for her coaches, teachers, and parents. So, she joined The Jed Foundation and then started talking.

“It made me want to speak about it more. It made me want to hopefully help other people going through the same thing as me with the change and shift in the atmosphere,” said Jones.

“Don’t wait until a student is in crisis or thinking about suicide but move way upstream to look at and notice when someone is just beginning to struggle,” Jed Chief Clinical Officer Nance Roy said.

The folks at The Jed Foundation are working to embed this idea into young people and help them realize it’s okay to talk about your mental health status. The foundation is partnering with Macy’s to reach millions, and Alex is one of the new faces of the youth mental health campaign. The goal is to shed the stigma and get people talking about their mental health status. Small talk in these situations can go a long way.

“I love to talk, Jones said. “I love to speak to people. I’m always the type of person to say, ‘Hey, how are you? How was your day? Are you okay?’ I love checking up on people because I know somebody would want the same for them.

Alex says with this newfound fame, including popping up on the big screen in New York Times Square — she wants to help people in any way she can. The teen also wants young people to know it might feel isolating at times, but you’re not alone.

“Somebody in the world is probably having the same struggles as you are, and they got through it, so you can too,” Jones said. “It’s always room for improvement. Room for betterment, and you can always do it. That’s my motto — you can do it.”

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Carmen Poe

Carmen Poe

Carmen Farrish Poe is a reporter for WLBT in Jackson, Miss.