Mental health is so important. Often, in the Latino community (especially), we tend to disregard the importance of our mental state. At worst, we don’t even deem this real. In other words, mental health does not exist.
I can’t stress enough how imperative it is to have empathy and an open mind when it comes to comprehending others’ hardships. Not so long ago, I watched a TED talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on how early adversity affects health across a lifetime. Most, if not all, know that whatever one went through growing up will evidently affect their being – this is prevalent through behavior, attitude, etc. However, what I was not aware of was the likelihood of someone being diagnosed with a disease/illness, per se, is much higher IF early trauma was present.
Might sound cliché, but this previous academic semester, I have grown so much mentally. In the sense that, I finally acknowledged the importance of mental health. I finally destigmatized my ideas on mental illness. Mental health exists, it is real. Someone who is dear and close to my heart is constantly battling depression and anxiety due to early adversity. I never tried to understand, let alone ask, how this person was feeling until I spoke to her about the subject, in a non-confrontational way (of course). This person broke down, in tears, not knowing how to cope with the idea of someone asking her how she was feeling.
At that exact moment, I couldn’t help but feel aggravated at myself for two reasons: 1. she had never received the proper support and 2. I never tried to be that source of support.
This person is the smartest, most resilient being I know and the fact that she has felt alone for more than half of her life disheartens me completely. Imagine always having family around you, but feeling like you are living a solitary life? By initiating the conversation, I created a space of comfort and I can’t emphasize enough how happy that makes me.
If you know anyone who is struggling with anxiety, depression, etc, be that source of support. Talk to him/her. Suggest counseling. Offer resources. Ask them how he or she is feeling, but most importantly – be there for your friend and listen because mental health matters.
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