The STAR Center features young people every month from across the country who are making a difference in their communities and demonstrating extraordinary leadership that you need to know about! Help us make sure young people in your community are recognized and valued by nominating someone today!
This month the STAR Center recognizes Anisha Imhoff-Kerr from Silver Spring, MD!
My name is Anisha Imhoff-Kerr, I’m 31 years old, and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I am a person in recovery from bipolar disorder and PTSD. I was first diagnosed with a mental illness when I was 9 years-old. I was later re-diagnosed by a new physician at age 11, and re-diagnosed, again, when hospitalized at age 12. At the time, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) did not have diagnostic criteria to diagnose individuals under 18 with bipolar disorder or other major mental illnesses.
At school, I experienced large amounts of stigma from peers and teachers. The school kept me away from other students and I found myself relegated to classrooms where I was alone, all day long. When research was published about how to diagnose those under 18 with bipolar disorder, I was given the honor of speaking about my experiences. I was empowered by that experience. I did not want other students to endure the stigma and discrimination that I had in school. At age 16, I started a non-profit organization called State of Mine. This organization existed for close to six years. For the work accomplished, I was awarded a national award as an emerging leader in the cross-disability community. State of Mine closed in 2006, when I chose to move to the DC area to further my education. At this time, I am working on a PhD in Psychology.
Advice that I would give to other young people is to find a mentor. When looking to pursue young adult leadership, a mentor plays a very important role. A mentor must be someone that you can trust, and that trusts you. Someone that can support you, but also give an objective point of view when necessary. Most of all, a mentor must be someone that has your best interests at heart.