Last week, I returned to my alma mater to participate in SpeakCNU, an annual TED Talk-style event that allows students, staff, and alumni to share their ideas and experiences with the campus community. This year’s SpeakCNU topic was the power of vulnerability. As soon as I saw the topic, I heard that stage calling my name. Here was my opportunity to speak with current students about mental health.
I am often asked how and why I became a mental health advocate.
When I transferred to my alma mater three years ago, I learned that many of my new lifelong friends were experiencing mental health challenges similar to my own. Regardless of diagnosis or lack thereof, each of us was intimately familiar with the relentless grip of stigma and the maze-like design of the mental health care system.
If we hadn’t been vulnerable with one another, we would have continued thinking we were alone in our paths of mental health recovery. The power of vulnerability lies in the simple fact that our stories can impact others. By using our voices to share our stories, this big, scary world becomes smaller and more easily conquerable. We have no idea how profoundly we can change another life until we muster the courage to become vulnerable.
This is where my passion lies. In sharing my own mental health challenges and experiences navigating our complex mental health care system, I can provide hope and support to others. This is why I have been an outspoken mental health advocate for the past three years, and why I will be an advocate for this community — my community — for the rest of my life.
Several gaps in the mental health care system, including ones that my friends and I have experienced, can be filled by UniWellness.
UniWellness allows students to meet with their mental health providers back home even when they are hours away at college.
UniWellness helps individuals with life-limiting conditions like depression and agoraphobia receive mental health treatment from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
UniWellness provides a way to seek treatment without feeling the stigma of physically entering a counseling center or private practice.
UniWellness equips individuals in rural areas with access to care even when they do not have reliable transportation or live hundreds of miles away from the nearest mental health provider.
It is gaps like these that countless individuals fall into every day.
It is the vision of filling these gaps that led me to join the webRTC.ventures team, who have been nothing but supportive of me, my ideas, and my advocacy work since I arrived two months ago.
It is the filling of these gaps with UniWellness that gives me hope for people like me to access the life-saving care they need to live productive, fulfilling lives despite their mental health conditions.
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