Nafeesa Mohid is a writer at heart.
That’s why she’s approaching mental health awareness through the power of story.
The Memorial High School junior had originally launched a website devoted to collecting the stories of local nursing home residents. After a months-long hiatus and showing her project to her friend, Soha Zareen, the initiative has since morphed into a locally based mental health awareness platform aimed at connecting Frisco through personal narratives.
Now, the team running Frisco's Finest includes Mohid and her three closest friends, Soha Zareen, Kat Ramkumar and Varsha Ganesh.
For Mohid, the narrative approach to mental health issues lends itself to allowing people to see themselves in others’ stories. She uses the example of one story she had received from a woman who had experienced a slump in her 20s who had picked herself back up.
“That's something I really needed at the time, which is why I think everyone else should be able to hear something like that,” Mohid said.
Hearing other peoples’ struggles and experiences helped her, Mohid said, and she thought it might be able to help other people, too. Today, the Frisco’s Finest website features stories from community members about their life experiences and includes a page where community members can submit their own narratives, as well as informational pages on mental health topics.
A number of the stories that come in are anonymous, which Mohid said she thinks her audience finds more interesting.
“It's really as unfiltered as you can get, because you don't have to worry about anyone accidentally finding you online,” she said. “Your name isn't out there, but your truth is.”
The stories all come from members of the Frisco community, an initial goal of Mohid’s.
“A lot of these stories that were contributed were from my teachers, and I had never known that they went through something like this,” she said, “and you just realize how much of a person you don't really know behind who they are. There's just such a complexity beyond a normal human that you pass by.”
With stories collected comprising people who have come from other parts of the world to land in Frisco, Mohid sees the project as reflective of Frisco’s growth and diversity.
Many of the stories that the platform has collected have come from Frisco’s Asian community, she said, and she felt a connection reading about the experiences of immigrants who now reside in Frisco.
“I think it helped me connect back to other people who have experienced being in a new country, being around people with more western ideals than what I was raised with,” Mohid said.
The platform’s array of narratives reflect the different kinds of people who have landed in Frisco, Mohid said, and shows that other people have struggles, too.
“It's an upper-middle class community, so a lot of people don't really talk about what they're feeling, especially in regards to mental illness, because there are different societal standards here,” Mohid said. “So through these stories, you can kind of peel away that layer and see what's really underneath all of these people.”