Story by Alex Smith, Summer 2018

St. John’s Wort is known to have antidepressant properties when consumed, often in tea or capsules. As an individual who struggles with depression and anxiety, I am warmed by the idea that nature has provided something for people when facing such as hard time.

This perennial herb grows in two stages: a fall/winter shrub stage and a spring/summer flowering stage. It is often considered a weed due to the way it looks and grows. One could say that this plant has a brand of stigma attached to it, in a similar vein to how mental disorders are often stigmatized. However, come individuals keep St. John’s Wort in their gardens because of its medicinal uses as well as for the environmental benefits of attracting many species of pollinating insects. The notion that this plant is a weed remains and some individuals want to rid their gardens of this plant; similarly, people who experience a mental disorder may be left out in certain social situations because of the stigma placed on mental health. Yet, in the same way St. John’s Wort persists based on what it has to offer, people falling victim to the stigma of mental health still persist with what they have to offer. The plant blooms flowers in the spring and summer, during mental health awareness month, and these yellow flowers also represent one of the colors of mental health awareness.

For me, St. John’s wort is a symbol of hope, progress, and treatment. It is a medicinal gift from nature and also a beautiful plant. I grow St. John’s Wort in my garden in order to reap the medicinal benefits, challenge the idea that it is a weed, and to help spread the good that St. John’s Wort can do.