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Mental Health Awareness Blog

Blog submitted by DOVES Network college intern, Monica:

1. What has your experience been with mental health? How young? My experience with mental health has been a journey. I first started experiencing battles with mental health during my freshman year of high school. I think my anxiety, depression, and eating disorder presented then due to trauma and the pressure put on me by my peers and my family at the time. My struggles with mental health created an uphill battle for me, and I didn’t have any support for the first year or two. I was called a liar, and pretender, and told that I was doing it all for attention. The first time I received any type of support or therapy was during my senior year of high school, for which I am forever grateful. Today, I am mostly aware of my triggers and mental burnout. Working on my mental health is a process, there are good days and bad days. 2. What have you seen work and not work when prioritizing mental health? When prioritizing my mental health, I have learned that it is okay to say “no” to people. Telling people that you are not available doesn’t make you selfish. I’ve learned that I cannot always pour into other people’s glass when my own glass is empty, figuratively speaking. We can’t constantly put ourselves last to please others. 3. What does self-care look for you? I practice self-care by: taking a day of rest, going out on solo lunch date, journaling, talking to someone I confide in. 4. While in college what resources have you noticed made available for students? What has helped you? The University of Arizona offers counseling services and different types of student support groups for students. I haven’t utilized any of the resources offered by the university, but I recently signed up for a program offered called Mentor Collective where a mentor is paired with a mentee for the academic year. I think this program will be a good way to achieve goals, keep myself accountable, and encourage me to communicate about topics such as mental health in our generation. 5. How do you know your mental health is at risk? I typically know my mental health is at risk when I begin to feel constantly overwhelmed, even by the smallest of tasks such as cleaning and laundry. I also tend to lack motivation to get out of bed some mornings. When it comes to work and school, I become very quiet and distant. 6. How do you come out of a bad place mentally? The way I come out of a bad place mentally typically depends on how deep into my mental hole I’m in. There are times where I can just give myself a positive self-talk, make myself a coffee, then get myself going. Sometimes I journal to get all of my thoughts and emotions out in the open. At my lowest point of being in a bad place mentally, I talk to my therapist or someone I confide in. 7. How do school, work, family, relationships play a factor on your mental health? Any type of relationship can positively impact my mental health or negatively impact my mental health. That’s why I emphasize that it is okay to say “no” to anyone who is asking more than you can mentally bear. In my experience, people have tried to use their relation to me as a reason why I shouldn’t turn them down. The expectations that come with school and work also put lots of pressure on my mental health. I’ve always felt the need to excel beyond expectation and appear to “have my life together”. I am learning that I am on my own journey, and I don’t have to operate at the same pace as my peers. Once I fully accept that, I don’t think I’ll feel so pressured by my peers, work, and school.

8. What advice do you have for youth struggling with their mental health? It’s okay to not be okay. Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out. Talk to someone you confide in who will help you figure out any next steps you need to take to ensure your safety. Know that you are not alone. 9. What advice do you have for parents in supporting their children's mental health? Parents, listen to your children. Create the space and safety where they feel comfortable being vulnerable, open, and honest about their mental health.

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