Miss Central Carolina 2024, Keelie Jones, created a non-profit called ‘Crying Out Loud’ in honor of her friend and former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A beauty queen is more than the crown she adorns.

“It’s everyday work, it’s hard work. I’ve been preparing for the job of Miss North Carolina now since I was 15 years old,” Jones said. 

The Hendersonville native says the pressure to be beautiful, both on and off the stage, can take a toll on you mentally.

“Especially when you are kept kind of in the limelight you have that pressure. I have suffered from mental health illness myself. I was diagnosed myself when I was 17 years old with anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Because of her experience, Jones was inspired to create a non-profit called ‘Crying Out Loud’ which promotes mental health awareness and suicide prevention

Jones said it is all in honor of her former best friend and Miss USA Cheslie Kryst.

RELATED: Cheslie Kryst’s book set to be released

“She was a giver, and she had a servant’s heart and that’s why I aspire to be like her because she touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way.”

The beauty queen’s suicide continues to shine a light on mental health illness, which experts say has been a topic for quite some time. 

“The last three years have been pretty consistently busy that is it has been a stressful few years for numbers of reasons and I think mental health professionals throughout the country have seen a demand for mental health services,” Dr. David Gutterman, a Cone Health Psychiatrist said. 

Creating a safe space for people to talk about their mental struggles is the goal of Miss Central Carolina’s organization.

She says the more light we shine on the topic the less in the dark people will feel.

“And when they hear someone else sharing it they realize that they can also talk about what they are struggling with,” Jones said. 

RELATED: Greensboro woman competes in Miss Plus America Pageant with her daughter and niece

For more information on Jones’ non-profit, click or tap HERE.

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