As part of its ongoing effort to explore the nature of mental wellness and teach young people to understand the importance of their own mental health, the Heart of Iowa Community Services (HICS) region invited Royce White, former Iowa State University basketball standout and NBA draftee, to speak this week at several Perry-area school districts.
White spoke Monday morning to Woodward-Granger Middle School and High School students and Perry Middle School and High School students Monday afternoon, sharing the story of his journey through anxiety disorder and the stigma he experienced within the NBA around his mental health issues.
“Having people like Royce White normalize depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as treatable diseases, we can guide our youth to treatment sooner and decrease negative school and social impacts that frequently cause significant impairments,” said Darci Alt, CEO of the Heart of Iowa Community Services (HICS) region and organizer of White’s visits.
White described for students the onset of his own anxiety as a 16-year-old and the struggles and successes he has experienced an advocate for mental health since he came into college basketball at Iowa State University and then in the NBA, where it became a friction point between him and the team management.
White regularly talks about stigma and how perception has impacted his own personal journey to wellness. He will speak Tuesday at the Panorama Middle and High School and the West Central Valley High School.
“We know among young people that suicide is the second-leading cause of death,” said Alt. “As a mental health advocate, I know first-hand the behavioral health crises some young people find themselves experiencing daily.”
The HICS region provides coordination and financial support for mental health and disability services to the citizens of Audubon, Dallas and Guthrie counties.
For more information about the training and educational opportunities available through the Heart of Iowa Community Services, visit the HICS website.