Miss Dallas 2023 uses her platform to help others with mental health care
DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) – Annette Addo-Yobo is using her platform to help other young people shine.
"Your new Miss Dallas and winner of a $1,000 scholarship is Annette Addo-Yobo!"
Addo-Yobo expressed sheer joy and excitement as she walked across the stage to win Miss Dallas 2023, but what you couldn't see behind that smile – is her years long battle with her mental health.
"Mental health does affect those who wear crowns and look pretty, we often think that they don't struggle but they definitely do," said Addo-Yobo.
Addo-Yobo is a trailblazer – she's only the third Black woman to win the title of Miss Dallas in the Miss Dallas Park Cities organization. But she's also breaking down barriers when it comes to mental health.
"Growing up in a culture where mental health is often stigmatized, I felt ashamed to talk about my mental health," said Addo-Yobo. "I myself struggled with depression and it was hard for me to feel comfortable talking about it but going through my experiences and talking with other people showed me that number one, I wasn't alone."
Addo-Yobo immigrated to the United States from Ghana with her parents as a baby. It was her own family's battle that inspired her to pursue an education in psychology.
"Growing up with a brother on the spectrum and immigrant parents there's a lot of knowledge that isn't communicated to us and Autism isn't a very common diagnosis in Ghana," she said. "But also my mother she had Lewy body dementia and she passed away almost two years ago and that came with its' own mental health challenges as well."
Now as Miss Dallas she's using her platform to share her story about her own struggles with mental health to inspire other young people to seek help when they're struggling. She's now a Texas Ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI.
"NAMI has so many free resources that a lot of people don't know about," she said. "Particularly in Black History Month, they have sharing the hope which is a program solely focused on de-stigmatizing mental health in the black community."
Addo-Yobo wants to use her platform to bring vital mental health resources to at risk youth and break down the stigma against mental illness.
"That conversation is very taboo to say 'hey I'm struggling with depression' or 'I think I have depression' and it's often attributed to laziness or 'oh its just a phase you'll get over it,'" she said. "It's very hard to feel that you're being validated and it often leads to people suffering in silence."
She is now trained and ready to head to local schools to talk to young people about mental health as part of NAMI's Ending The Silence program.
According to a CDC report, in 2021, 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. And 30% of girls said they seriously considered attempting suicide. That's a 60% increase from just 10 years ago.
"It's very sad because it's a lot of my story I started noticing depression symptoms in High School but I wasn't diagnosed until much later in life."
She hopes that by sharing her story, other young people will feel safe to seek help too.
"What has been helpful as Miss Dallas is being vulnerable and sharing my story so that young girls who see me on my page, don't just see a pretty girl in a crown," she said. "They see somebody that's relatable, they see somebody that knows what they're going through."
Addo-Yobo competes in the Miss Texas competition in Richardson at the end of June. If she wins the state title of Miss Texas, she'll go on to compete in Miss America.
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