At the young age of eight, I began to suffer with depression. I often felt helpless, hopeless and extremely sad. No one truly understood just how overwhelmed and very alone I was feeling. To make matters worse, I was subjected to both physical and mental bullying by my classmates throughout my school years.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I began to experience my darkest days. The pain I felt inside was becoming unbearable and I knew that I needed to seek help immediately. With the love and support of family and help of dedicated doctors, I was diagnosed with depression. I was finally able to triumph over the illness and I wanted to help others do the same.

I wanted to change the hearts, minds, and attitudes about mental illness, so I became a volunteer and national spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I also enjoy being a New York Co-Director for Bully Police USA, which is a watchdog organization dedicated to providing children with a safe and secure environment within their schools.  

This past July, I was honored to be crowned Ms. New York World International! I am using my title to put an end to the inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness & help provide students with a safe environment without the worries of harassment and abuse. I’m hoping to inspire others to succeed in life despite any obstacles they may encounter and remind them that they’re not alone!

--Jennifer Ferris, Ms. New York World International


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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741.