#hearmeout 6

My name is Laura and I’m a mental health advocate. I run the Instagram page, @themindhealthspot, promoting awareness, support, tips, and education about mental health. I am currently a graduate student studying clinical psychology, on the path to becoming a clinical psychologist. I decided to dedicate my life to supporting, researching, educating, and helping those with mental health challenges. Right now I focus on delivering mental health services to those that struggle with mental health issues. I also conduct research in the effects of trauma, child mental health, and effective mental health treatments.

I grew up experiencing first-hand the negative consequences of untreated mental illness in my family, and this inspired me to learn more about mental health and how treatments can be effective for mental health disorders. Throughout my learning, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of different people experiencing mental health struggles, including but not limited to: children and teens with autism spectrum disorder, children and adults with ADHD, adults struggling with addiction and HIV/AIDS, and individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, panic, agoraphobia, suicidality, and substance use.

Through this work, and experiencing the drastic consequences of mental health challenges in my family, I witnessed how damaging the stigma of mental health is. Stigma comes in all shapes and sizes; from someone saying to a depressed person “you don’t look sick”, to someone believing that the reason they’re experiencing mental health struggles is because they are weak-willed or broken, to someone calling another person “psycho” or “crazy”.

Stigma can be so damaging, and the shame that stigma carries can really limit people to accessing treatment for mental health challenges. For example, someone who believes that their mental health struggles are their fault, “all in their head”, or due to a bad deed that they are being punished for, may not want to seek help because they either feel shame, don’t believe in, or feel like they don’t deserve treatment.

The first step of helping those with mental health issues (including yourself) is to dismantle the stigma. This means actively learning more about mental health issues, and working to be aware of the misconceptions you may have about mental health. This also means being kind and understanding to those with mental health challenges. Believe people when they talk about their struggles. Listen to them. Be there for them. Try to understand where they’re coming from without dismissing them or telling them just to “snap out of it”.

If you’re suffering from mental illness, understand that it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything to deserve these challenges, and healing is possible. We all need to be united against mental health, and together, we can make a difference💜

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