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Julia beats the odds: an anxiety success story

By Blue Cross NC | May 7, 2021 | Community Health, Investments

At 19 years old, Julia has struggled with anxiety her entire life.

Her signs and symptoms were especially acute during middle school. Sometimes Julia’s anxiety would get so bad that she would shake uncontrollably.

The stress and embarrassment of frequent anxiety attacks. Kids taunting her at school led to struggles with suicidal thoughts. Eventually, she engaged in self-harm.

Almost 1 in 5 American adults has an anxiety disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association defines anxiety as a disorder that involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. They affect 40 million adults ages 18 and older.1

The Spiral of Anxiety

Over the next four years, Julia was hospitalized for her mental health 26 times. On top of her anxiety, she was diagnosed with depression. Her parents struggled with how to deal with Julia’s diagnoses. Things kept getting worse, and Julia left home.

While living with her friend’s family, Julia was hospitalized again. This time she was in an adult unit.

“That was really scary,” Julia said. “I felt really unsafe, and that was the thing that made me decide to get better.”

Against All Odds

Then Julia found LifeSet, a Youth Villages program. It helps vulnerable youth who have been or are currently in foster care, juvenile justice and mental health systems transition to adulthood.

Around-the-clock, trained LifeSet specialists help the youth to:

  • Find safe housing
  • Achieve stable employment
  • Continue their education
  • Cope with previous abuse and neglect
  • Build healthy adult support systems
  • Remain free from legal involvement
  • Develop the living skills needed to support themselves

Through LifeSet, Julia found stability in her life again. She learned effective ways to manage her anxiety, build up her confidence and stand up for herself.

Today, Julia goes to college in Massachusetts and is pre-med. She’s back at home with her family. She even works as a mentor for young adults with special needs.

LifeSet Expansion in North Carolina

Matching North Carolina’s state funding, Healthy Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Medicaid offering, has invested $1 million in the LifeSet program. The investment helps expand Youth Village’s footprint to 80 counties across the state. It will provide support services for children and young adults facing emotional, mental and behavioral problems.

Now, over 300 youth will get the kick start they need to achieve positive, lasting change in their lives. Just like Julia.



A version of this post originally appeared on the Youth Villages blog.