HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH)– College can be a confusing, emotional time for young adults, but at Quinnipiac University, students are supporting students.
“My whole life I’ve had OCD and anxiety” says sophomore Alex Nauta who was always tired, exhausted from hiding her issues from friends. “Around the time my grandpa died when I was about 8, I started having symptoms of OCD – obsessive hand washing, I couldn’t get thoughts out of my head.”
Years of therapy and medication helped Nauta, who also felt better when she discovered a passion.
“I had wire from a science project, I had sea glass from a vacation so I just started making jewelry,” says Nauta, noting she felt peace and purpose creating rings and necklaces, which she now sells to raise funds to support mental illness research.
Her business is called Hidden Starfish, a name with meaning.
“It represents resilience because a starfish is very unique because if it loses an arm or leg, it will grow back,” she explains.
Nauta has joined the campus chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to continue to raise awareness.
The group is organizing a special event during the upcoming Eating Disorder Awareness Week to encourage struggling students to trash their insecurities.
“I think it will boost people’s confidence making it not an awkward thing to talk about,” says freshman Josie Buckley.
Nauta shares her story to inspire other kids and their parents – to give them home and change the conversation about mental illness. “I don’t want it to be taboo like it is,” she says.
Each month, Hidden Starfish donates 10% of it’s proceeds to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Click here for more information.