The Importance of Mental Illness Awareness During a Pandemic

On October 8, 2020, DMAE students had a chance to participate in a presentation by Inspired Wellness to learn the role and impact of mental illness in our community. This event was piloted by guidance counselor Jalesah Brooks to recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week and the importance of mental health. Mental Illness Awareness Week is the first full week of October dedicated to increased awareness of mental illnesses. 

“First, it’s important to know the difference between mental health and mental illness,” commented guidance counselor Jalesah Brooks. “Everyone has ‘Mental Health’ because as humans we all have experiences that trigger thoughts, which result in us feeling various emotions. ‘Mental Illness’ is when someone is diagnosed with a disorder that they usually have little to no control over and can be brought on by poor mental health and other stressors,” Ms. Brooks explained.

Often, mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are caused by poor mental health. As a result, it is essential to have strong mental health. This is increasingly important in these uncertain times because by not keeping one’s mental health in check, one can spiral onto the path of developing mental illnesses. 

Our mental health is especially vulnerable because we are unable to live our ‘normal’ lives,” senior Dimple Kangriwala said. “Meeting and talking to people virtually is different than meeting them in real life and that does have an impact on our mental health. It makes it harder to reconnect and talk to people in general,” Dimple added.

Not everyone can control the emotions that swirl in our heads. Bottling these emotions and thoughts will only cause harm in the long run. Thus, it is extremely important to let these emotions and thoughts out by talking to a trusted individual. In addition, DMAE has many resources to help fight these inner demons, like the ZONE and even guidance counselors. 

“Hopefully, with this mental health awareness program, students will understand that mental illnesses are common and treatable – and that those treatments are available in our community,” teacher Nestor Ladron stated.