BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 16-year-old Baltimore County high school student is hosting the second season of a podcast about the mental health challenges teenagers are facing today.

Faiza Ashar, an Eastern Technical High School student, was selected to host the new season of the podcast called On Our Minds, which is created by the PBS Newshour’s Student Reporting Labs and WETA’s Well Beings campaign.

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“It’s honestly all about teenage mental health and having healthy conversations about how teens deal with their mental health and how teens experience mental health,” said Ashar.

Ashar said the first season of the podcast helped her during a difficult time in the pandemic.

“I found this podcast when I was in a darker place, like the transition from virtual learning to in-person learning. So on our minds become a guiding light for me,” she said.

Each week, two episodes of the podcast are released, and they focus on stories from high schoolers about topics like grief, social isolation, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and more.

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The student reporting team creates them to help students learn more about different mental health struggles they are going through and to normalize the conversation about them.

“There’s such a stigma around mental health and getting treatment, whether it be depression or schizophrenia or something like that, everything from that spectrum of mental health is often seen as like a negative thing but we want to, not glamorize it but rather, embrace it and find ways to transform the image of mental health,” said Ashar.

Ashar and her co-host Matt Suescun have interviewed some notable public figures for the podcast like filmmaker Ken Burns who talks about his PBS film “Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness.”

Ashar told WJZ that it is important to talk about mental health issues as teens because what experience in high school can affect them for years to come.

“A lot of the unhealthy habits that we develop during our teenage years can affect ourselves when we grow up and all of this boils down to mental health,” she said.

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You can listen to On Our Minds wherever you get your podcasts. Episodes are released on Wednesdays and Friday through the end of June.

Stetson Miller