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Mental health care is essential

March 04, 2022 by Mirian Mencias

Between a worldwide pandemic, war in Ukraine, and just trying to keep everything together in our everyday lives, this is an emotionally challenging time. Two years into a pandemic and 10 days into a war in Ukraine, how can we expect students and staff not to feel the effect of what is happening and affecting us here at home? Stress is not new; this is just the latest drop in an already overflowing bucket. We are at a breaking point when it comes to mental health.

Students, teachers and staff still show up to school and work in the middle of their grief, loss and pain, and they need our support. As we meet with them, remember that grief is a personal and individual process. Key words to keep in mind are empathy, compassion and flexibility.

As I meet with students and staff members from many different departments and organizations, they all have one thing in common: they are tired. They’re sad, running on empty, and feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Therefore, this week, I want to focus on the importance of mental health. Mental health care is essential. Let’s remember that we are humans, and it is OK to need help and a space to be vulnerable.

As we are trying to advocate for others, our own self-care is essential. I want to remind you all that your own self-care is helping others as well. You are all an important part of this work, and we need you healthy emotionally and mentally. We cannot help or be effective if we pour from an empty cup. It is OK to take a mental health day.

While not everyone can take time off to take care of their mental health, there are many ways we can support students and staff members during these challenging times. I want to acknowledge that I am not a health care professional; I am a student who cares a lot. Here are a few tips to support you emotionally by taking care of yourself physically. Please seek professional help or support from your loved ones. Many schools provide counseling sessions. We should be more flexible in giving students and staff members the time off they need to take care of themselves.

This week I worked with Melissa Littleton to talk through ways our colleges can support students affected and impacted by what is happening in Ukraine. We decided to speak with the counseling departments at our schools to ensure that students’ needs are being addressed.

Counseling professionals on our college campuses are already overworked and underpaid. They want to help, but there’s a lack of representation. To fully address mental health, students need to feel comfortable being vulnerable. If students feel like their counselor doesn’t fully understand them, connection can’t be made, and vulnerability can’t happen.

There is a need for the mental health care professionals on campuses for both students and. HB 1840 provides help and support for unexpected moments like these. Life is unpredictable, and students and staff should have a safe space to unload and process their stress. As I look at what is happening on our campuses and in our homes, I would like to urge legislators to support policy that effectively addresses mental health, including resources and training. Students are the future, and without them there is no future. Everyone deserves to be respected as a human.

As a future legislator myself, my goal is to change policy from focusing on companies to focusing on human life. I want to help create change that will benefit us — where we value each other simply for being human. When we start valuing each other, we create better humans and better futures where our children can thrive.

Last Modified: 6/13/24, 8:40 AM
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