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Kent State student honored by Gov. Kasich for courage in the face of mental illness

March 9, 2018 GMT

Kent State student honored by Gov. Kasich for courage in the face of mental illness

KENT, Ohio - The Kent State University freshman who Gov. John Kasich honored earlier this week for her work on mental-health issues had for years quietly fought depression, anxiety and bulimia.

In a telephone interview with cleveland.com, Nina Schubert said she decided to speak out and get help only after realizing she would otherwise be unable to obtain a college education and lead a successful adult life.

Kasich awarded Schubert his Courage Award during Tuesday’s State of the State address. The governor noted that she founded the Nightingale Project, a support group for people with depression.

“She’s an inspiring example of leadership at a young age on such a difficult issue,” Kasich said. “We love you Nina for the fact that you’re stepping up and stepping out and helping people to get their lives back.”

More on Nina Schubert: Student battles mental illness, creates Nightingale Project to inspire others

Schubert credits a high school guidance counselor with persuading her to seek counseling. The counseling, in turn, allowed her to confront feelings she had pushed aside as a child because she didn’t know how to deal with them.

“I had just never heard people talk about the feelings of worthlessness, body issues or being bullied before,” she said.

She said she realized, for the first time, that her battle with mental illness was “just not my issue.”

Her acceptance to KSU brought new determination to “get well for me.”

Schubert said some classmates have made hurtful comments when they learn that she suffers from mental illness. But she said she is able to get past the comments by reminding herself that they don’t know the hurdles she faces – sometimes just to get out of bed.

Schubert began the Nightingale Project last October. She posts encouraging messages on social media daily, especially Instagram -- @nourishing.nina – where she has heard from other’s battling mental illness that her story has given them hope.

In addition to providing support, the Nightingale Project seeks to end the stigma associated with mental disorders.

“I want to end the stigma so that we can get more people talking about mental illness, to normalize it and to end the jokes about it,” Schubert said. “I want to end the idea of people turning a blind eye to people who are suffering.”

Schubert, who is majoring in early childhood education major, also hopes her experience will benefit her future students.

“I want to be there when they are at the age where they are discovering themselves and help them cope with whatever is tough for them,” she said. “I want them to feel safe. I want them to feel loved.”