Union Beach Student Receives $100K Donation from Singer for Mental Health Advocacy

Source: New Jersey Patch

A Union Beach college student has pushed mental health awareness so far that one of her musical idols took notice.

Stockton University senior Julie Coker has battled depression and anxiety. After Superstorm Sandy destroyed her family’s home, Coker got help from counselors at Red Bank Regional High School. That made her want to help others.

She has since become president of the Stockton chapter of Active Minds, a nonprofit group supporting mental health awareness and education to young adults; and become involved with the Stockton University Resiliency Project, telling her story on video to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Active Minds has grown under Coker’s leadership, hosting around 50 events per year, including some that bring in national speakers, and also serves on the national Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.

“Julie is one of the all-time great Stockton students,” said Active Minds advisor Nathan Morell. “She really hit the ground running and by her second year here as president of Active Minds. She works tirelessly year-round, even during the summer.”

Coker is also a Justin Bieber fan, who she saw perform at her first concert at the age of 13. The singer, who has his own health history with codeine abuse and Lyme’s disease, was interested in helping someone involved with mental health. So on the set of an MTV show that Coker was invited to last week, Bieber called her onstage and presented her with a giant check for $100,000.

“They just told me to be there and it would change my life,” Coker said. “I didn’t even know that (Bieber) would be there.” She met Bieber’s wife, model Hailey Baldwin, backstage, and his manager said Coker will also get tickets to one of Bieber’s upcoming concerts.

Coker will graduate in May with a social work degree. She will use some of the funds for attending graduate school. She is also considering starting a scholarship to help Red Bank Regional High School students attend college.

“I’m still in shock,” Coker said. “The check is in my room at home, but I still feel like it almost didn’t happen.”

The MTV video in which Bieber presents the check to Coker has more than 1,000,000 views on YouTube.

You can learn more about Active Minds at ActiveMinds.org.

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