Interviewed by Jada Atchu-Yudom
Do you think people get over a mental illness without medication?
No, medication is a common method to stop the negative effects of a mental illness, but people can also use coping mechanisms such as healthy distractions as focusing on said behaviors may allow for the person to not pay attention to the mental illness they are experiencing for the time being. Psychoanalysis may also be an option along with other forms of therapy. Those who are religious may also resort to prayer by asking a higher being to help them through difficult times.
Why might someone with mental illness need to have a routine?
Daily tasks are much easier to focus on when one has a routine. I believe people struggling with a mental illness prefer being in control of their life, meaning that they do not have to deal with any unexpected work that may cause them to get anxious or overwhelmed.
How do you deal with your own mental health?
I have symptoms of anxiety and depression, so whenever I feel as if I’m experiencing a panic attack, I work on my breathing through grounding methods that calm me down eventually. I breathe in for 8 seconds and breathe out for 7 seconds, repeating when necessary. I have also tried the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique where you list 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing I enjoy tasting. As for the moments when I am feeling depressed/suicidal, I try my best to distract myself through watching YouTube videos or shows and also by listening to sad music to cry. I also jot down my feelings in my Notes app to try to get everything out. However, sometimes these methods don’t work and I just lie down hopelessly. I would love tips if anyone has any!
Are there any specific psychological conditions that mean a lot to you?
Social anxiety disorder is one that intrigues me as I can somewhat resonate with it and can understand how difficult it may be to live life with this condition.
Do you believe that the stigma has decreased a significant amount in your community?
I believe that the stigma against mental health has somewhat decreased, but it is not at all gone. As an Asian American, I feel as if the stigma is practically engrained in my ethnic background because it is so common for parents and members of this community to dismiss how important mental health is, but I can see that some families are more accepting and understanding when it comes to this topic.
How do you think school affects mental health?
School definitely affects mental health negatively as the stress of maintaining a high GPA, studying, handling a heavy homework load, and participating in class takes a toll on most if not all students. Trying to live to such high standards for validation from whomever it may be (teachers, parents, friends, etc.) causes students to suffer from burn out as they may start to focus on school more than their mental state and well-being. Also, class participation being mandatory in many classes and schools is generally unfair, in my opinion, and may push a socially anxious/anxious student over the edge.
What self-care practices do you recommend?
I know that positive affirmations really are beneficial to bettering your mental state! This is easier said than done, but feeding your mind with positive things such as praises will make you feel better. Being grateful for at least one thing a day is also a great method along with journaling.
What do you think schools should do to combat mental illness within students?
Schools should have genuinely supportive staff that truly care about students’ mental health such as guidance counselors that are able to keep the information that students’ share to them to themselves and not relay what is said to the students’ parents. Teachers should also be more understanding about the issues that students may deal with on the daily. Once again, participation should not be graded/enforced in classrooms! Mental health should be spoken about and taught more in schools. Psychology should be mandatory for all students, and this course should discuss mental illnesses and healthy coping mechanisms.
At its core, stigma is caused by?
I think stigma stems from misunderstanding and being unaware of what mental illnesses actually are.
What does that stigma look like?
Judging someone who has a mental illness and telling them to simply “get over it” because one does not know that overcoming said illness is extremely difficult.
What are some things that we can do to stop that stigma?
Education and discussion are the best ways to stop this stigma. Teaching about mental health in schools as well as parents speaking to their children about the importance of mental health.