In my first attempt at conquering the abyss that is this capstone course and specifically this project, I thought of what I want to do after graduation. I’ve always had my mind geared toward this topic in a I-need-a-job-or-I-have-no-place-to-live kind of way. But now, in my final semester, I’m starting to look back at the changes I went through in these past years and wonder, “what came of that?” Do I now know more of myself than I did before? Certainly. Do I now know more of what I want to do with my life and my career? Eh, debatable.
However, very recently, I have felt that I may want to work in mental health advocacy. I have suffered with depression and anxiety, giving mental health a personal value. In my experiences, I originally did not think of mental health as something real because I did not think it affected me. When it did affect me, I felt it was something only I dealt with. Through my time at Michigan I realized there was value in mental health and have come to the belief that mental health is important for everyone, not just people who have been diagnosed with mental illness.
Ok… now what? I have this personal experience and I have my opinion. But as my dear friend John Rubadeau would say most opinions stink (sans his usual vulgarity). But my opinion does not make a great project. So what does?
Something I’ve considered is the stigmatism of mental health and where that comes from. While there are many people of my parents’ generation in the mental health field there are also many people like my parents who adhere to the “suck it up” field of thought. Or in my father’s words “all that stuff is bullshit.”
*This Comedy Central skit is how I see these people*
Also, the images that are associated with mental illnesses or disorders is a compelling area. Freshman orientation, we were so lucky to watch a play put on about the many troubles that freshman endure. In this play, a girl with depression was shown to have made no friends and walked around hunched over with a black cape over her head. I cried silently in the crowd thinking that would be me. The commercials for depression medications show people with depression as stiff wind up dolls or stormy, hunched over grey people. I’d like to consider what the real image of these mental illnesses. What does mental illness look like in reality?
Where and how did mental health get seen as weakness or falsified? Who and what is going to change these stigmatizations?