I had the pleasure and opportunity to get the perspectives of
San Diego State students and staff on what mental health means to them and why it's important. These are their stories . . .
Alexia Oduro | Strength
"There is strength in asking for help. There is strength in deciding to push through. There is strength in choosing life."
Jaylen Citizen | Layers
"I chose this word because I feel there are a plethora of levels and layers to mental health. There are certain aspects and variables to consider when enduring and discussing mental health."
Chavon Garrett | Flowing
"I chose flowing to describe mental health because I feel like it's a tool that allows you to keep and understand your emotions. It's freeing to not be trapped by what's in your head but instead embracing it and allowing it to flow through you."
Melvin Ridley | Confidence
"Confidence is important in any aspect of life. Believing in yourself and your abilities is one of the many keys to success. No one is more important to you than you."
Jalen Wills | Consistency
"At this point in my life, I have a solid idea of what works for me and how to help others. What I struggle with is consistently doing what I know is good for me even when it isn't easy. Also being consistent with deliberately checking in on those I care about to make sure they are doing well too."
Natalie O'Neal | Self-discipline
"Mental health to me symbolizes controlling your emotions. Essentially control of your mental health means that you took time to discipline yourself enough to feel all of your emotions and then decide how to deal with them. But it takes much discipline to push yourself to get that point to feel and also to continue to put your mental health first."
Ahliyah Chambers | Power
"Turning our pain into power."
Tyree Baker | Calm
"Being calm helps me figure out solutions to keep me out of stressful situations. I feel like if I'm not calm when an obstacle occurs then that will affect my mental health more."
Dr. Tonika Green | Empowered
"Empowered to be okay and to not be okay but still come out of the struggle whole."
Julia Triplett | Everything
"Mental health easily guides every aspect of my life, activities, and personality. Without mental health, good or bad, I feel like there can be nothing to ground you to yourself."
Grace Fox Tappin | Team
"My team is the reason I am still alive. They give me love, support, and purpose and that alone keeps me going. A team is chosen and takes responsibility for the group's dynamic and I'm grateful they choose to carry that burden of mental health when I am not able to handle it alone. They help me navigate the uncharted and scary territory that is mental health."
Isaiah Gentry | Empathy
"I think if people expressed more empathy for others then we would be able to get past a lot of the stigmas that people hold. The world needs more understanding between people. With more understanding, the world can be a kinder and more loving place."
Cierra Bush | Restoration
"I picked restoration because mental health is all about tapping into yourself and rebalancing. Trying to return to your peace and serenity. Restoration can be simple like a simple prayer or complex like multiple therapy sessions. There's no cookie-cutter fix that works for everyone and that's okay. Mental health repairs, mends, improves, and that should be our goal."
Divine Ovisakwe | Hush
"I never really felt free to talk about my mental health for a while. In my family mental health concerns were non-existent. My parents came from a life where survival was a priority and how you felt didn't matter. For the longest, I kept a lot that bothered me to myself. This is why I chose the word hush because if you're really bothered, stay strong. Nowadays I'm learning to speak up and express myself. How I feel definitely matters."
Kiara Prak-Perry | Accepting
"I chose the word accepting because in my mental health journey I have had to allow myself to feel what I am feeling and accept the trials I go through. It is more helpful to my well-being if I accept who I am, flaws and all."
Natalie King-Shaw | Sacred
"Black mental health is so beautiful and important yet so often ignored and overlooked both within and outside of our community. To paraphrase Audre Lorde, self-care is an act of resistance."
Yasmine Shead | Puzzle
"Taking the time to piece things together and work through the confusion that comes and goes."
Cierra Watkins | Peace
"To me mental health is finding the peace within ourselves and using our strength to find our inner peace. I think that once we find peace we can truly be content with life."
Keiana Foster | Well-being
"I chose the word well-being because your mental health affects your social well-being. Whether you are experiencing positive or negative mental health, it all goes into play with how we think, feel, and even act! If you don't acknowledge your mental health, it can drastically affect your life and your perception of specific things."
Kemiah Williamson | Balance
"I chose the word balance because a lot of the time it's hard to balance all of my responsibilities and obligations with my mental health. While it can be easy to ignore what your body and mind need, it's important to balance out your time and take time for yourself when needed."
Efe Umukoro | Valid
"I chose the word valid because I feel like within the black community, mental health and its importance is not always validated. When people are struggling with mental health issues they may be told to pray or give it time. I think the black community needs to do a better job at validating mental health struggles and making everyone feel important."
Caili Anderson | Strength
"I chose this word because I tend to bottle up my emotions and let it affect my mental health. I learned recently that I am strong, but it takes strength to reach out for help."
Morgan Johnson | Silence
"In the black community, people are usually silent when it comes to talking about mental health. Many of us are raised being used to not expressing how we feel and how others' actions make an impact on us. It's important for us to learn how to voice our feelings so that we aren't holding all of that in."
Jervaughn Gaines | Resilience
"We as a people are always put in positions to suffer or to start behind others. Knowing these oppressive forces exist, we still wake up every day and put our best effort into changing these limitations."
Dr. Brandon E. Gamble | Respect
"Even as a black man who is a psychologist, in my work life, school life, and sadly even my home life I have fought for my desired respect. It took me years of depression and anxiety with therapy to realize I must first demand it for myself."