YouTuber Anna Akana is a mental health advocate who deserves more recognition. (Illustration by Nymera Nicole, Academy of Art University)
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Akana’s ‘Youth and Consequences’ series should be the model for modern television.

Before starting her career as a YouTuber, Anna Akana was doing stand up comedy at the age of 19. She claims that comedy helped her cope with her sister’s suicide and is one of the reasons why she advocates for mental health.

This viral writer, filmmaker and actress has been an advocate for mental health ever since she started her YouTube career in 2011. She is one of the most hardworking YouTubers out there, and her talent deserves more recognition. She is constantly working on new creative projects that are well written and directed.

In her weekly videos, she talks about topics such as dating, friendship, loss and self-love in hopes of helping others. She talks about her own experiences to connect with the audience. Then, she talks about building healthy habits to (hopefully) help her viewers.

Anna Akana encourages people to talk about mental health without telling them how to go about it. (Image via Dailymotion)
Akana encourages people to talk about mental health without telling them how to go about it. (Image via Dailymotion)

The YouTuber isn’t focused on giving unsolicited advice, as she says how she dislikes when people try to advise her on how to feel about her own depression. She wants to create awareness in order to get rid of the stigma that society still has when talking about mental health. The only advice she gives to those who are unfamiliar with mental illness is to avoid using phrases that will further damage a person’s health. Instead, she encourages people to listen to a person suffering from depression. People want to be heard.

Akana’s inspiration to work with mental health awareness came from her early experience growing up with depression and anxiety. She expressed how her sister’s suicide pushed her to becoming an advocate for mental health, as she always encouraged people who are fighting mental illnesses to seek outside help. Akana always encourages people to talk about the importance of mental health and consistently points out the misconceptions of the illness.

I remember watching her YouTube channel back in 2013, when I was in high school and struggling with anxiety and depression. Back then, I felt I couldn’t really talk about how I was feeling because there was a stigma with mental health. I learned a lot from watching her videos because it helped me understand what I was feeling. Her sense of humor helped me through some really tough days. When she talked about the loss of a loved one, there was a kind of hope in her words that motivated me and countless other viewers.

I think Akana’s openness about her own experience with mental health is what makes her genuinely appealing to audiences. I think she is one of the best YouTubers, and her work deserves more recognition. Her videos are educational and refreshing. I have seen her work throughout the years, and she has grown so much as a person. Akana’s content has gotten even better on many different levels, and it’s a good channel to binge watch at any time.

Recently, she got a new show on YouTube Red called “Youth and Consequences.” The show talks about high school drama, and has an educational twist on the consequences of bullying and mental health. The show is not your typical “mean girls” series; it’s extremely empowering to young women of color. As an Asian American, Akana describes the show as a dream come true being able to play the lead role. She portrays a “mean girl” who is not the stereotypical catty antagonist, and she has a selfless persona when it comes to helping and empowering others.

The show also brings light to issues that need to be talked about, such as accommodating transgender bathrooms in schools. During The Streamy’s award show, she received an award for acting in the drama “Youth and Consequences.” In her speech, she accidentally came out as bisexual, to the surprise and excitement of many audience members.

Later on, in her weekly video, she explained she never meant to come out. She had been drinking before her speech, but she claims to feel empowered by that moment. In the award she received from the Buffer Festival, she decided to engrave “I’m Bi” into it and send a picture to her conservative parents. “I figured it’s easier news to stomach for Asian parents if it’s engraved on an award,” Akana said.

In the video, she interviewed her parents to see how they felt about her coming out as bisexual. Fortunately, her parents were more than accepting about her being bi. They both expressed their sentiments of wanting her to be happy no matter who she loves, as any supportive parent’s reaction should be when their kids come out to them.

When Akana accidentally came out, her parents were surprisingly accepting of her sexuality. (Image via YouTube)
When Akana accidentally came out, her parents were surprisingly accepting of her sexuality. (Image via YouTube)

Akana never entirely labeled herself as bisexual because of the misconceptions that many people have. She always felt that she had been more on the spectrum of heterosexuality, as she had never been intimate with a woman. However, she has questioned her sexuality for many years.  It wasn’t until she was intimate with two women that she had finally accepted her sexuality.

She spoke to people who are involved in the LGBTQ+ community, as she was still doubting her decision to come out. The YouTuber was nervous that people wouldn’t believe her because she had previously joked in a video about wanting to kiss a woman when she was in a heterosexual relationship, and it “not being a big deal” because she thought she was straight.

As a fan of her work, I’m really excited about her growth and success. Akana is finally receiving the recognition she deserves and I truly believe she is a great role model for young women. I know mukbangs and ASMR videos are trending right now, but mental health awareness videos should be popular, too.

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