Mara Wilson's Important Message For Teens Living With Mental Illness

05/05/2015 03:52 pm ET

Looking back on her experience with mental health issues, Mara Wilson wishes someone had told her that being depressed and having anxiety was OK. Since no one did that for her growing up, she’s taking the opportunity to tell young people now.

The former child actress and current writer teamed up with Project UROK, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping teens with mental illness. In a video, she opens up about the mental issues she’s had over the years including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“I was an anxious kid, and I’m still kind of an anxious adult,” she said.

In order to destigmatize mental illness for the 20 percent of people ages 13 to 18 who live with a mental health condition, Project UROK creates videos that feature people who have personally experienced it. Some of them share what they wish they knew as they grew up with these conditions. Wilson would have appreciated someone telling her that having anxiety or other mental health issues was OK.

“I wish somebody had told me that it’s OK to be anxious -- that you don’t have to fight it, that in fact fighting it is this thing that makes it worse, that pushing it away is really what it is,” she said. “It’s the fear of fear.”

Wilson closed her video with some comments on isolation, an effect of mental illness that Project UROK wants to help teens overcome. Whether they’re living with depression, an eating disorder or any other mental health condition, Wilson wants teens to know they’re not alone.

“I think that that’s something to keep in mind that, you know, you are not the only one who has this. Other people can and have fought these battles before. So the important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and you are OK.”

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