Interviewed by Joyce from Revive’s interview team.
In your opinion, why do you think mental health is an aspect that’s neglected in society? How can we change the perception of mental health problems?
I think mental health is rarely talked about because it can be a scary topic for many people. A lot of the time, people want to present the best side of themselves, especially because society pressures them to, but when everyone shows only what they want others to see, it leaves no room to show any imperfections. This unfortunately leads an even larger problem, because when practically no one talks about their mental health or their struggles, we often forget that they exist or are simply too afraid or too embarrassed to speak up about our own experiences or reach out for help, as it makes it seem like we’re alone in our struggles.
How can high school students help to destigmatize mental health?
I believe that by having more students share their stories and experiences with mental health and being fully honest about all of it, more and more people will be open to reaching out for the help they need and be more encouraged in knowing that they aren’t alone. This is why I think building communities, especially of youth, where people are honest, understanding, and not afraid to talk about their mental health or experiences is essential toward destigmatizing mental health.
What tips do you have on self-care, self-love, or mental health?
As a high school student, I know school, extracurriculars, and any other type of work or peer pressure can bring about a lot of stress. While setting high goals for yourself is a good thing, it’s still important to remember to take breaks and understand your limits. Even if it’s just 5, 10 or 30 minutes, taking time out of your day, away from all forms of stress, is essential toward caring for your mental health.
How did you find the importance of mental health?
For a lot of my life, I was entirely clueless about what mental health was or how and why it was important. It wasn’t until high school when I felt a lot more pressure, especially while attending a competitive school and beginning to set higher goals for myself. However, I found myself coming across content on various platforms of more and more people speaking up about mental health with experiences similar to mine, while also finding content about mental health disorders and issues I had never heard of before. Finding this type of content was like a reminder for me to take a step back and prioritize my own mental health, while also showing me just how important it is to spread mental health awareness so that it doesn’t have to be such a hidden and misunderstood topic. By simply seeing that I wasn’t alone, it gave me the confidence to feel more comfortable about my own struggles.
Please tell us more about Self Care Support! What sparks the idea of a mental health organization? How does it help people?
I actually started Self-care Support as a small project last year because of the pandemic, in 2020. I entered my idea for this organization into a competition and managed to win a $1,000 grant to put my plan into motion. I specifically wanted to create a mental health organization because I knew that the pandemic has had such a huge impact of people’s mental health this past year, especially for students while transitioning from in-person to online learning and while having to stay away from friends and support groups. I wanted to create Self-care Support to not only spread mental health awareness, but to also inspire youth to make the most out of their time, despite the pandemic, by making a difference in their communities. We strive to create a community of youth, entrepreneurs, and changemakers, where we not only share content recognizing and explaining mental health, but we also share the stories and advice of the people within our community. We have various initiatives to move toward this mission, including Supporting Students, where we feature organizations that provide helpful content or opportunities for high-school students, along with daily mental health challenges, a podcast interviewing female leaders, a small business spotlight, and mental health curricula and activity lesson plans for teachers to use in their classes.
Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?
Today, there is so much pressure on students to juggle numerous things at once–school, extracurriculars, work, sports–and that pressure is fueled not only by expectations from teachers and parents, but also the desire to “fit in” and rise to the top when comparing yourself to others. But when the ultimate goal becomes doing whatever it takes to be the best, you easily forget that you’re still so young and shouldn’t have to overwork yourself at such a young age. It’s great to tackle new challenges while still young, but these things can often get in the way of being truly happy or having a healthy mind. By prioritizing your own mental health, you can take away some of that stress and pressure that might be overtaking your life and outlook.
What does mental health mean to YOU?
In simple terms, mental health is the state of my wellbeing. For me, it’s all about finding what makes me happy, knowing my limits, and being able to honestly say that I am good enough without having to compare myself to others or meet someone else’s expectations.