Miss Pennsylvania looks to raise awareness about mental health issues | Berks Regional News


Typically, around this time of year, news organizations look back on their top stories of the year and unveil the ones that make the list. This year, 69 News reporters have been asked to do something different: They have been tasked with picking a story that resonated with them and sharing why the story mattered so much. 69 News reporter Grace Griffaton sat down one-on-one with Miss Pennsylvania, who just got home from competing to be Miss America. “Mental health is a subject that is near and dear to her heart,” said Grace. “I believe it is just as important as a person’s physical health.”

READING, Pa. – Miss Pennsylvania has made raising mental health awareness a top priority. Like many people, someone special to her faced mental health struggles.

Ever since she was a little girl, Alysa Bainbridge has dreamed of taking the stage at the annual Miss America competition. Earlier this month in Connecticut, that dream came true.

“You always dream about dancing on the Miss America stage, but knowing it was so much deeper than that. It was for my brother,” said Bainbridge.

The 24-year-old performed an emotional lyrical dance in honor of her late brother, Tyler, like she has during so many competitions before. The song is called ‘Somebody’s Someone.’

“It’s specifically talking to someone battling addiction and mental health, making sure they know that despite their struggles they are somebody to someone,” explained Bainbridge.

Tyler died from opioid addiction that stemmed from untreated bipolar disorder, and after Alysa finished the dance honoring him, she says she cried.

“When you battle mental health issues, you can struggle in silence out of fear of being judged or misunderstood,” said Grace. “I know, because since I was a child, I have struggled with anxiety and depression and, on occasion, panic attacks too.” 

“The reason I was there, ultimately, was to spread that message of mental health awareness and to use that platform of Miss America to talk about something that a lot of people still don’t want to, that they see as dark. I want people who are struggling with mental health or addiction to feel seen,” added Bainbridge.

To Grace, Alysa’s spirit is an inspiration. Outside of raising awareness of mental health issues and opioid addiction, Grace says Miss Pennsylvania’s drive and positivity is contagious.

“She wants people to never stop pursuing their passions. She didn’t. Prior to becoming Miss Pennsylvania, she competed three other times for the spot,” explained Grace. 

“There were so many times in my life that I didn’t think I’d get there, and I doubted myself, didn’t think I had what it took to get there,” said Alysa.

Miss Pennsylvania

Grace says self-doubt has trickled into her own life at times and that she worked really hard to push back those negative thoughts.

Outside of competition, Alysa is just a 24-year-old who likes to have fun. She describes herself as outgoing and bubbly.

“Those are two words that people have always used to describe me,” said Grace, with a smile.

“Honestly, I just love people. I love connecting with people. I describe myself as a human connector,” said Alysa.

“That’s what I do!” exclaimed Grace.

“It’s what brings me the most joy,” added Miss Pennsylvania.

Meeting Alyssa and seeing the parallels in their lives really struck a chord with Grace.

Grace became a journalist because she loves meeting people and hearing and telling everyone’s incredible stories.

Alysa says after she finishes out her stint as Miss Pennsylvania, she will continue pursuing her dream of being a broadcast journalist, too.

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