Mental health for college students is often clouded by stigma. This former Club kid is breaking the silence in his community.
This post is part of a “Where Are They Now” series highlighting Youth of the Year winners who have gone on to become the leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers who now shape our world.
“When I first started battling with my depression and anxiety, the Boys & Girls Club of Choctaw County taught me how important it is to open up,” says Courtney Patterson.
The former Club kid and 2015-16 Southwest Youth of the Year credits the Club for teaching him how to work hard, ask for help and follow his dreams. He was a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Choctaw County for 11 years, where he participated in Torch Club and embraced helping peers as a Junior Staff member.
Valedictorian of his high school class, Courtney was awarded a bachelor’s degree in public relations last May from the University of Oklahoma. Now, he’s channeling his passion for helping others and mental health into his graduate studies. He was accepted to the University of Oklahoma’s accelerated graduate program and expects to receive a degree in strategic communications next spring. His thesis will focus on the importance of mental health promotion strategies for college students.
Courtney has made it his mission to help dispel the stigma that surrounds mental health. Recently, he self-published, “black & bitter,” a poetic story about the mental health battles he experienced as a kid in southeast Oklahoma. After its release, he held an on-campus event discussing the importance of student mental health, finding support and resources on campus and self-publishing online.
Once Courtney completes graduate school, he’s headed toward a great future in New York City to pursue a career in marketing with an intersection between tech and entertainment.
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth leadership program, honoring extraordinary young people and their achievements in leadership, service, academic excellence and leading a healthy lifestyle. Learn more at BGCA.org/YOY.