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Mental Health 101

Andrea Maghacot

Cornell Minds Matter talked about how to approach the mental health of both our own and our peers. Personally, I feel confident about how I approach my own mental health, but I want to improve in the context of my family and friends. Katherine (I believe that was the name of the presenter) talked about supporting our peers through clear communication; if my friend were experiencing XYZ in their life, I first ask them if they want to talk about it at all and if they do, I should not force them to tell me everything (if they prefer not to). I have a tendency to coax as much information as possible from people who tell me about their lives (doing so makes me feel like I am being a better friend, like more information = more opportunities for me to help), but I never realized that I could be making them uncomfortable. Carving that space for others is crucial because I would not want my friend to force me to say something that I do not want to say.

Speaking of carving spaces, I learned how important it is to designate blocks of time to myself. I like to make myself busy, even when I have no school work. Whenever I am in college (versus at home), I let my time be constantly interrupted, but I want to say “no” more in this setting. The more I say “no,” the more I prioritize myself. It would be incredibly helpful to hold a similar service learning event in which students learn how to say “no” to unnecessary requests/requests that hurt more than help. Many of my peers also have trouble with this because “no” is connoted as “selfish”; truly, prioritizing myself is also connoted as “selfish.” I genuinely enjoyed the event. I learned how to better talk to my family and friends about mental health, alongside how to better approach my own.