The Seattle Central College NAMI Student Club is still new, developing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the impacts of multiple pandemics of racism, economic inequality, and mental health have risen to be unavoidably present (if not new) to our awareness regularly, for many of us overwhelmingly so. As a club that promotes mental health awareness and reduces stigma we have found that much of the “work” has been building community within the small group of the club. In the spirit of being the change we want in our world we have shared stories of struggle and support with each other. We have increased our connection, developed our relationships and believe that this is what develops compassionate understanding and removes stigma. We want to share with the larger SCC community some things that have developed for us regarding personal and/or community mental health awareness.
- Jone — The past year and a half has been incredibly isolating. I started with NAMI right when everything started so I’ve been around for a bit. I remember once a couple months ago when everything was too overwhelming and I felt trapped by my commitments, I reached out to Bryce Walb (our co-advisor) and admitted how upset I was with myself. I felt like if anyone should have their shit together, it should be the NAMI president. However, Bryce brought up how silly it’d be to hold myself to a standard I wouldn’t hold anyone else to. Being with the NAMI leadership group has taught me so much about how far forgiveness should be extended and why mental illness is easier to handle when you have a support group.
- Hamin — Like many things, we tend to reduce mental health to a personal issue. Yet no one is truly alone when it comes to mental health. Even feelings of loneliness and isolation are very much a shared experience. There is a great amount of solace that can be found in connecting through those experiences. I sometimes think that it’s the closest thing to a cure, or at least a big part of it. There’s also no reason to think that sharing only happens in the struggles. As one of our members have put it: to be healthy is to help others.
- Charlie — This year has highlighted the need to master the skill of being happy in the moment, even when the moment isn’t the happiest. We, as students, often have a plan in mind that involves a lot of happiness in the future, so we don’t focus on what makes us happy in the present. The pandemic has thrown a lot of our plans for the future into uncertainty, leaving many feeling empty without that certain future happiness they’ve been planning on. The challenge now lies in improving the small, everyday things we can do to make ourselves happy in the moment rather than working towards the big grand plans we have for the future, so when the time comes to start moving forward again we are ready, and happy, to do so.
- Chiquita — Over the past year, I learned the best way to combat any mental health fatigue is to be actionable. Take the steps that are needed to help you communicate your thoughts and your direct ask. Fear is a state of mind that can capture your light. Don’t let it by choosing to be silent. Being actionable starts with speaking up!
- Bryce — The past year has emphasized the emotional labor involved in personal story-telling and story-hearing when done with intention and compassion. Vulnerability and sharing can be liberating and healing. But it is still work with the potential for harm, so it should be nurtured in environments with care and trauma-informed support.
May is a month to promote awareness and remove stigma, but that is life work. Awareness and practice is needed all year long, not just for crisis, and not just for those living with mental illness or struggling with mental health. We encourage you to embrace practices and community to sustain you and those around you. And as you care for your own mental health and well-being thing of what awareness can you also bring to the well-being of others and how you impact it?
Consider joining the NAMI Club or attending a meeting every Friday at 3:00 on Discord https://discord.com/invite/FCs88Yhdj8
Attend a Mindfulness Session: Mon., Tues., & Wed. from 12:10 – 12:30pm, April 12 – June 9
Meeting Room URL: https://tinyurl.com/yyx4eh9n
Password: Bliss! or 715567
Meeting ID: 994 361 6626
If you are interested in reading the personal stories of individuals living with mental illness and their loved ones visit NAMI’s Personal Stories site: https://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories
Astro (they/them) is the Editor-in-Chief of the Seattle Collegian, the President of Seattle Central's Queer Cooperative club, a fully-professed Guard with the Sisters of the Mother House of Washington, a social worker and behavioral scientist, founder of Transgender Day of Remembrance at Seattle Central (TDoR), Board Member-At-Large with Diversity Alliance of Puget Sound (DAPS), and a self-identified Queer-Alien-Person-Of-Color. They have won awards for their journalism and community service work as well as for innovation in leadership and academic excellence, and are an active and outspoken advocate and activist for both the LGBTQ+ and recovery communities. They speak regularly at events relevant to these causes, and work closely with their fellows to support these communities. Social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion are their banners, and their belief in the gifts, strengths, and resilience of all minoritized communities is the driving motivation behind their work and their mission: using the powers of journalism, self-expression, creativity, conversation and connection to uplift and foster acceptance for all peoples.