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Student to Classmates: “It’s Okay to Ask for Help”

Jim Norman

Canterbury student Aedan McDermott ’22 stood in front of a packed Maguire Auditorium at School Meeting, stepped outside of his comfort zone, and delivered a courageous message everyone needs to hear. As the latest “Saint on the Hill,” Aedan talked about his experience living with a mental illness.

“Everything started in the sixth grade when my nana died. A few years prior, my mom got cancer. I used to go home every day for ‘stomach issues’ and really didn’t know what it was,” he recalled. “When I got to the seventh grade, I was diagnosed with anxiety.” 

According to Aedan, that anxiety led to a number of absences from school and other academic difficulties for him throughout seventh and eighth grade. But he persevered, he said, forging ahead with a balance of counseling, therapy, and medical care.

Eventually, Aedan came to Canterbury and continued his growth both personally and academically. Thanks to his hilltop experience and, especially, the support from Assistant Director of College Counseling Gretchen McCarthy, he is well on his way to graduating and attending college. “I was accepted to the University of Albany—thank you, Mrs. McCarthy! You really helped me.” 

Aedan closed with a heartfelt plea to his classmates. “Everyone is dealing with something, whether it is anxiety, depression, or other issues,” he shared. “You might have thought I didn’t have issues, but I used to sit at home and cry. It is okay to admit that you cry, that you have problems. It is okay to talk to people. And it’s okay to take the next step and get help.” 

Judging by the rousing applause he received from his fellow Saints, the message was heard loud and clear.