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'Normal is Overrated' Event Seeks to Remove the Stigma Around Mental Health for Teens

Carly McGovern (center) with friends and fellow presenters at the Normal is Overrated event.

According to the Centers for Disease Control the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems among teens is growing in the United States, with more than 1 in 10 being diagnosed with anxiety, about 1 in 13 with behavior disorders, and about 1 in 17 with depression. Teens these days have a lot on their plates, and the pressures of school and life can often be magnified, or perhaps distorted by things like social media. On today’s show we’re going to learn about a local effort to remove the stigma of talking about mental and behavioral health issues among teens.

Earlier this month there was an event at the Collaboratory in Downtown Fort Myers called ‘Normal is Overrated’ that began as a school project and grew into what organizers hope will become an annual event. It was presented by Healthy Lee and Kids Minds Matter. It featured six local students who shared their own experiences with behavioral and mental health issues. We’re joined by two people who were directly involved in its creation and presentation.

Paul Simeone is vice president and medical director of mental and behavioral health at Lee Health; and Carly McGovern is a senior at Fort Myers High School, and the event's brainchild.


Among those lending their support to the event:

  • Andrew’s Anthem
  • Cape Coral Police Department
  • Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Collier County Sheriff’s Office
  • Elite DNA
  • Florida State University Center for Child Stress and Health
  • Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida
  • Hazelden Betty Ford
  • Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida
  • Hope Clubhouse
  • Lee Health
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Collier
  • PACE Center for Girls
  • Salvation Army
  • The Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida
  • United Way
  • Valerie’s House
  • Well Fit Girls
  • Women Empowering Women