May is Mental Health Awareness month

Aaliyah M. Moore

May 31, 2019

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness month, and this year marks the 70th year it has been observed. This month is observed in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, and to stop the stigma that is often associated with it.

I first became interested in issues surrounding mental health when I was in graduate school. As part of our program, we had to take two counseling courses. Now, working professionally in the field, I understand the importance of being aware of mental health issues and how they relate to higher education. According to the latest research on college students and mental health, three out of 10 students have struggled with depression in the last two weeks, and over one in four have expressed issues with anxiety. Counseling centers, and other faculty and staff members have reported to working with campus and local resources to assist students with their mental health concerns.

After becoming aware of issues that surround mental health, it inspired me to take an active stance on my personal mental health. Since moving to Arkansas last June, I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions due to the relocation. The move impacted my emotional well-being more than I ever expected it to, and it brought me to a place of despair and loneliness.

 In the month of April, I decided I had to do something about my mental health, so I visited a licensed professional counselor. I found that much of what I had been experiencing in my personal life was due to depression and an adjustment disorder.

Visiting a counselor has really helped me learn to cope in a healthy manner, and since then I have made strides towards more positive living. My counselor has helped me to incorporate positive interventions that have made me feel better. My diet has improved tremendously, which is significant because research indicates the more people improve their diets, the more their depression improves.

I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of what is happening with their mental health. While there is much stigma surrounding mental health, I think everyone should work to overcome the negative judgment that comes from taking a stance. I have found that speaking out against the stigma has helped to instill courage in others that may be facing similar challenges, and has inspired them to educate the public about mental illness. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from others, and doing so does not make an individual weak or unstable. I can truly say that taking the steps to be in control of my mental health has been one of the best decisions I have made this year, and I plan to continue advocating for mental health not just in the month of May, but all year long.

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