Activist Mia St. John lost her son to suicide in 2014 and has since devoted her life to mental health awareness.

MIA ST. JOHN ON MENTAL HEALTH ACTIVISM

Her son Julian was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at 17, and killed himself at 24 in 2014. “It was a long battle. We knew there was something going on early on and my degree was psychology, and I had worked with kids like him many many years ago, so I knew the signs and sought help immediately,” St. John told uInterview exclusively. “Unfortunately you put your trust in professionals in the medical field and there’s so much neglect and corruption going on in our medical field, it’s heart-wrenching. So I decided after he passed that I would make it my mission to retire and devote the rest of my life to helping these individuals.”

On the warning signs and symptoms, St. John said there were many that she picked up on. “He would go in and out,” she explained. “At times he would become a recluse, at times angry, and I just saw the signs that I had seen years ago when I was in college, so I knew something was going on. And of course there’s depression with those that have schizophrenia, so I saw that as well.”

St. John believes the system in place currently to help young adults with mental disorders is poor and needs to change. “You don’t even get diagnosed with a mental illness until you’re an adult, 18 or over. So why you spend al this money on prevention is beyond me,” she said. “Kids could be suffering form the terrible twos or puberty, there’s so many things going on when they’re children, you just really don’t know what it is, so to have all these programs for prevention is just crazy to me,” she explains, and offered a solution – “I think that the money would be better spent with these young adults and theres really no help for these young adults, this is such a sad situation.”

For her part, St. John founded the Stone Art Program to help those in need. “Stone Art is actually my son’s studio,” she explained. “My son was an artist and I had bought a house in Palm Springs for a vacation place for him to real and do his art, and we rented a studio for him…and he had named it Stone Art,” she said. “After he passed I didn’t know what to do with it because I had already signed the lease and I thought, well I know my son, and he was such a giving child, such a humanitarian – all  he cared about was the homeless and people who needed help, so I thought well I’ll turn the facility into a free center for all those who are suffering form addiction, mental illness, homelessness. So that’s what we do, and I decided to retire and just donate my life to charity.”

Prior to St. John’s mental health activism, she was a professional boxer, and her son’s journey has changed her views on the sport. “I know that boxing is a very dysfunctional sport for a lot of dysfunctional people, to put it bluntly,” she said. “It’s the only sport where the only goal is to render another human being unconscious, even if you have to kill them,” she said. “You cannot think about killing another person and go into the ring, you have to put that behind you, and just say, ‘I’m ok with that, I’m ok with dying and I’m ok with killing someone else.’ It’s very dysfunctional, and I decided I don’t want to be involved with any more violence on another human being, I want to help humans, I don’t want to hurt them, I want to help them now.”

St. John’s ex-husband, Kristoff St. John, has reportedly sought help for his own mental illness issues this week. The Young and the Restless star checked himself into a hospital and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

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