X22: About our project on teens and mental health


The Xposure High School Journalism Workshop Class of 2022 stand on set of WDRB news.

We would like to begin by saying thank you for taking the time to read the articles written and photos produced by diverse student journalists from across the nation at the 2022 Western Kentucky University Xposure High School Journalism Workshop. After not having a workshop since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an honor to be the first group back.

For the first time ever, the Xposure workshop focused on a single topic: teen mental health. Teens are experiencing drastically more mental illnesses and mental health challenges than generations before. This crisis is affecting teens everywhere and hits close to home for many of us. As we researched, reported in the field, conducted interviews and wrote our articles, we gained further understanding of the complexity of Gen Z’s mental health.

Some sensitive topics discussed in our work include sexual and drug addictions, eating disorders, suicide, trauma-inducing events and grief. Producing these stories was challenging. As we reported on other teens’ mental health, we experienced stress, anger and sadness, too. This project took a toll on us but it also made us aware of the mental health and struggles of other teens and ourselves.

We hope that by producing this content we have helped lessen the stigma surrounding teen mental health. We are proud to be able to amplify the voices of our communities and those we interviewed.

The Xposure 2022 student journalists

  • Cooper Bass, Bullitt East High School. Mount Washington, Kentucky
  • Delilah Brumer, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, Los Angeles, California
  • Nia Davis, Prince Edward County High School, Farmville, Virginia
  • Shelbie Heath, Bullitt East High School, Mount Washington, Kentucky
  • Jaylin Jaggers, Oldham County High School, LaGrange, Kentucky
  • Chaz Kapfhammer, Trinity High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Madeleine Kiluba, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Roi Mundin, Ritenour High School, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Elyse Owens, Atherton High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Gabriella Plasencia, Dripping Springs High School, Austin, Texas
  • Vincent Porco, Atherton High School, Louisville, Kentucky