By Jakiya M. (Class of 2028, Thomas Jefferson High School)
"Mental health is a critical factor that affects many aspects of our lives, and it is essential to prioritize it at every stage of life. However, individuals struggling with mental health challenges often face dismissal of their experiences, feelings, or possible solutions, which is known as toxic positivity. This phenomenon creates a culture where feelings are suppressed and vulnerability is seen as a weakness. When this happens, people often place less validity on themselves and their feelings, which can be harmful. Therefore, it is crucial to create a culture where it's okay not to be okay, and vulnerability is seen as a strength.
Feeling supported and connected to others can have a profoundly positive effect on our well-being, helping us face life's challenges with greater courage and strength. Thus, it's essential to take care of our mental health, prioritize self-care, seek professional help when needed, and stay connected with loved ones. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and creating a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and seek support is vital.
It's easy to feel small and insignificant in the face of criticism and judgment, leading to mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. However, authenticity is a gift to the world, and we are enough just as we are. If you are feeling alone, know that there are people who care and want to support you. Don't be afraid to reach out and connect with others.
Mental health matters, and it takes courage to ask for support and take steps towards healing and growth. We should work together to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and create a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and seek support."
If you are an Access Opportunity student who needs mental health support, please reach out to Jasmine or your AO counselor to get connected with the necessary support and resources.
Jakiya was one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors throughout the 2022-23 school year. She worked on many different projects this year, but this essay represents her final work as an ambassador. To learn more about her, please visit her other blog post. We wish you luck in your senior year, Jakiya!