Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Take Action

Every student enrolled in the Leadership Institute at Brown is required to complete an Action Plan at the end of their two weeks. The student must first identify a specific issue they wish to address, and then they are able to flesh out a course of action.

My issue concerns a lack of openness about mental health due to stigma and ignorance. I want to specifically direct my focus to my school: due to the pressure to attend a competitive college and, in some cases, the necessity to work in order to provide for one's family, stress and sleep deprivation are rampant in the student population. Stress and sleep deprivation can both exacerbate and induce mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, many people do not take a person's mental health into consideration when it comes to their "abnormal" behaviors; instead, they react with scrutiny and alienate the individual.

My plan is to establish a club that promotes mental health awareness. The final design of the Mental Health Awareness Club is largely dependent on demographics: every individual possesses their own triggers, coping mechanisms, and so on, but I can provide a general framework of what meetings will look like. There would be two of them held each week: one exclusively for those with mental illness and another for all members. This is to provide an exclusive space in which those with poor mental health can feel the most understood and supported - to make them feel safe enough to open up about their feelings and experiences. If a student begins to feel overwhelmed, there will always be coloring books, paper, colored pencils, slime, and stress balls that will allow them to calm down. Additionally, both sessions will strictly be under a policy of private, but not confidential: if anyone shares information that insinuates they, or other people, are in danger, I have a responsibility to report that to a higher authority and ensure their safety.

I will consider my plan successful if I can establish the club, cultivate a sense of inclusiveness and appreciation towards those with mental health within my school, and see the club continue on after I graduate. Given that I will be in my last year of high school, however, I realize that I will need to be flexible in my outlook and expect to adjust certain expectations.

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