OWN alumna Vanessa Lam works to reduce the stigma of mental illness

OWN alumna Vanessa Lam remembers the most frightening moment of her life clearly–the moment she revealed that she struggles with mental illness to more than a hundred audience members at OWN’s annual youth conference.

Vanessa has struggled with trichotillomania–obsessive-compulsive hair pulling–throughout her life. As a child, she hid her struggles, trying to take up the least space possible. She told her powerful story at OWN’s 2020 virtual Global Leader Event. “To become small was to hate who I was,” she says, “and develop a deeply entrenched, toxic relationship to myself.”

Through OneWorld Now!’s Leadership program, Vanessa began to battle the stigma that comes with mental illness. “I shared my truth,” she explains. “This couldn’t have happened without the endless examples of leadership demonstrated by my peers at OneWorld Now! where they owned their incredible unique stories and were unapologetic about who they were.”

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