Author provides mental health resources for children

Makaila Nichols mentors school students

“I experienced a lot of bullying when I was younger,” Makaila Nichols said.

The 24-year-old mentor and author said “middle school was awful.”

She said she used to look forward to lunch, hoping to make a friend, but children would literally move when she went to sit with them.

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“I remember this one kid like, crumpled up her chips and like dumped it on my head,” Nichols said.

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Nichols said the girl continued to taunt her.

“She’s like, ‘Well, since you won’t eat chips you can wear them,’” she said.

Nichols said this came soon after she started modeling, and she adhered to a different diet than some of her classmates.

She told Florida’s Fourth Estate hosts Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden she felt traumatized by the experience but didn’t tell her parents because she didn’t want to break their hearts.

But she did find a friend in her Latin teacher and ate lunch in her classroom every day.

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Eventually, Nichols said she did make friends her own age.

“I would go and hang out with the kids who, you know, maybe they were rejected, or they felt a little bit different,” Nichols said. “Like, I remember, just looking for people who felt a little different, just like I did, and hanging out with them and being like, ‘I don’t care what these popular kids have to say about me or what I’m doing’ because it was, it literally became like me — and not to say me against them — but I was like, ‘I’m not going to allow them the satisfaction of, you know, ruining my day.’”

Instead of getting bitter Nichols said she chose to find people who appreciate her.

Now, Nichols is using her experience to help other kids going through similar situations with her Blatantly Honest Foundation.

She said she spends a lot of time in schools.

“The cool thing about the foundation is since I am young — I’m 25 — I can go and speak to these kids and kind of talk to them as their big sister would. And it’s not like mom or dad are talking at you. It’s like, ‘OK, hey, let’s talk about mental health. Let’s talk about bullying, let’s talk about body image’ in a way that I’m able to get through to them, but also like, encourage them to go and you know, seek therapy or talk to their parents or teachers.”

She’s also using technology to reach people.

“I have a podcast series where I interview different celebrities and really talk about their own stories because ultimately, I want to help encourage a conversation and let them know that they’re not alone because I think the hardest part of dealing with these things is feeling like you know the world’s against me and truthfully it’s not and a lot of other people experience these things,” Nichols said.

She also has coloring books that battle bullying and promote body positivity.

Her book ‘Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life’ is also available for people seeking resources.

You can hear more from Nichols on Florida’s Fourth Estate. It is available on all podcast platforms. You can also watch it anytime on News 6+.

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.