Announcing the 2024 Stop the Stigma Champion Max Delgado!

A Stop the Stigma Champion is a high school student that has demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership by openly discussing mental health issues, challenging stereotypes, and promoting a supportive and understanding environment in their community.

The winner of the 2nd Annual STARR Stop the Stigma Champion Award is Maximiliano Delgado of Rogers High School in Rogers, AR!

Honoring Max for his dedication to creating a supportive environment at his high school and within the community. His efforts in promoting mental health awareness, ensuring food security, preventing suicide, and advocating for effective mental health legislation have made a significant impact.

Nominated by the Arkansas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Maximiliano (Max) Delgado  is currently a senior at Rogers High School in Rogers, Arkansas, where he has been an active participant with AFSP-AR for several years through their Out of the Darkness Community Walks.

Max has been a leading voice at his high school, specifically with the Friends of Rogers student group. This group was created by Keri Book and several students who noticed a need for a student group that focused on mental health awareness. In his role with the Friends of Rogers group, Max helped chair the Rogers School District’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk last year (2023), raising $265 dollars for AFSP. Max also participated in the Arkansas State Capitol Day event, where he met with legislators to advocate for 988 and smart mental health legislation. During his time with Friends of Rogers, the group saw a student count of 100 students involved. Max also assisted the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) on updating the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

On Thursday, May 2, 2024, Max spoke at the State Capitol Day event in Little Rock to advocate for 988 support and firearm storage legislation.

Max’s Dad, Jorge Delgado shared his enthusiasm for his son’s accomplishments and the impact that Max has had on his community and his younger brother: “Thank you for recognizing my son’s passion to help kids suffering with mental health. Besides what Ms. Jackie Sharp [from the AFSP-AR] told you about my son, I wanted to add that he is also a great big brother to my youngest son, JD. Max has set a great example for JD [a sophomore at Rogers HS] helping JD become more involved in AFSP and in Friends of Rogers. This winter, Max and the Friends of Rogers put together one hundred care packages for the homeless.”

Max’s passion for his community coupled with his role in Friends of Rogers has allowed him to grow as a leader and resource to his peers. Before graduating, Max wanted to prepare the next ardent group of leaders, which includes his younger brother JD, to ensure continued success at Rogers High School.  Max is an incredible young man and his peers and teachers believe his zeal for mental health advocacy will only continue to thrive.

Max will be attending University of Arkansas in the fall, majoring in psychology. He will be starting as a junior as a result of earning his associates degree while dual enrolled at Rogers High School.

Congratulations, Max! Keep up the incredible work you do!

Nomination Criteria

The STARR Stop the Stigma Champion award will be presented to a high school student that has distinguished themselves by one or several of the following:

    • Demonstrated leadership and courage in openly discussing mental health.

    • Raised awareness about mental health challenges and educated others on the importance of mental well-being.

    • Fostered a non-judgmental and empathetic environment where individuals feel safe seeking help and support.

    • Exhibited compassion and provided support to peers facing mental health issues.

    • Inspired positive change and created a lasting impact on the school community regarding mental health attitudes and practices.

Fill out and submit the form in the right column to nominate a Stop the Stigma Champion!

Award Selection Process

⇢ A STARR community member may only nominate one student per year.
⇢ Student nominee may be unaware of their nomination, as this will be a spontaneous action noteworthy of nomination.
⇢ Student must be attending high school full time.
⇢ Those nominating the student should work with the young adult’s parent/teacher in order to confirm aspects of the nomination (an example being given permission to share social media posts, pictures, names, etc.) and to help assess backstory for student’s ‘why’; the goal being to maintain the surprise of the award recipient at all times.
⇢ The nomination will be submitted to the STARR Stop the Stigma Champion Award Committee, led by Leslie Franceschi (Chair) and 3 STARR community volunteers, composed of at least one representative from a clinical site, pharmaceutical company and advocacy group.
⇢ The nomination should include rationale for the award: what did the student do, how did their action impact the mental health awareness and wellness initiative, how did it impact their community and how will this student’s actions continue into adulthood.
⇢ The Committee will assess all nominations for appropriateness and follow up with any questions to the submitters; the submitters will work with the parents/teachers in confidence.
⇢ The Committee will review all nominations for the recipient of the annual award and notify the nominator of the winning nominee by May 1st.
⇢ The award recipient may be contacted for newsletter interview (they may decline and the article will simply repeat the nomination submission on record); the newsletter may contain a picture of the award winner if granted permission by parent and/or recipient.

Last Year's Stop the Stigma Champion

The winner of the 2023 STARR Stop The Stigma Champion award was Megan Beck

On May 1, 2023, Megan posted a story about her ongoing mental health challenges to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention during Mental Health Awareness Month. In her post, Megan talked about her struggle with her mental health: her inside not matching her outside, obtaining counseling, support from family, and understanding that her path is better at the moment, but could change at any time. She took a personal crisis and turned it into an opportunity to share how mental illness doesn’t discriminate and mental health is fluid – happy today, sad tomorrow. She indicated that there was much trial and error in achieving wellness through therapy, medication and family support.

Before and especially since her post, Megan has been contacted regularly by her peers, who are struggling with their own mental health journeys. Although she herself can’t see why, Megan has become a beacon of hope for her peers; others feel a connection and safe in speaking with her about their own struggles. Megan stresses that mental health is an ongoing process, with multiple factors leading to success; it takes work.

The following is Megan’s Facebook Post May 1, 2023 (copied from the original, using original formatting and grammatical errors):

for anyone that knows me, they know that i like to keep it real. i tell it how it is and i speak my mind. but, for the past year and a half i have been struggling to “keep it real.” i’ve had an internal battle that i’ve been struggling with, and i’ve only told a few close people out of the fear of judgement or the ‘why’ questions. i’ve been in therapy for the past year and a half and have been on antidepressants for the last 6 months. i was scared to tell people this because i didn’t want their image of me to change – the girl who was always smiling ear to ear & always laughing ready to tell a joke. but that’s not how i felt on the inside. on the inside, i was broken. i was numb. i didn’t want to be here anymore. i thought all my problems would go away if i was gone. i quickly learned that’s not true. after a lot of trial and error, i am now at a place where i am happy. where i can finally be myself – i honestly never thought that i would get to this place & i’m pretty darn proud of myself for getting here. i still have my bad days & anxiety episodes where i just cry and cry. but, unlike before i now know that those are just small chapters in my big, big book of life. please please be kind to everyone because you never know what someone else is going through [green heart emoji]

every year, 56.2 million americans struggle with mental health related illnesses & most of them don’t have the access to the healthcare and medication that they need to thrive and live every day to the fullest…it’s time to make a change! my hope is that the stigma around mental health will change and instead of calling people weak for speaking out about their problems, i hope you call them strong and worthy of happiness [green heart emoji]

also huge shout out to my rock Stacey Gunther Beck – i would not be here without her [pink heart emoji] she is my best friend and i love her to the moon

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” ~ Project Semicolon [green heart emoji]

[At the end of her post is the link to the the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention fundraiser that Megan selected for her event.]”

Megan has received the first annual STARR Stop the Stigma Champion honor due to her bravery in the light of potential criticism, her ability to shine as a beacon of hope to her peers, and for actively fostering an environment that destigmatizes mental illness. Megan, who will be attending Salisbury University, Maryland in the fall, for nursing, will be able to share these very strong traits with her peers, patients, and her community in her ongoing journey.

Megan has raised more than $500 for AFSP.

We want to recognize a high school student who has made an outstanding contribution to destigmatizing mental health issues and promoting a supportive environment within their school community.

The STARR Stop the Stigma Champion award winner will be announced annually on National Mental Health Action Day, during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Stop the Stigma Champion Nomination Form
Please fill out the form then submit. If you have any questions, please contact
What year will the nominee graduate in?