Year in Review: 2016-2017

It seems like a lifetime ago that I moved into my quad in Morrill Tower, but it also feels like time has absolutely flown by. Tomorrow I take my last exam and move out of my residence hall, thus ending my first year at The Ohio State University. I will look back on this year knowing that I have changed for the better, but I still have a long way to go.

This year,  I took it into my own hands to reach out to others more. I am typically not the kind of person to reach out first, but being in a big school has forced me to change that. This change has had a huge impact on my life. I notice now that when I go home, I effortlessly make plans with friends and family, which is very unlike how it used to be. Although communication is still something I need some work on, I am glad to have at least expanded my abilities further than they ever have stretched before.

The next big change in my life has been with my health and my mindset. I have arthritis, and for the past couple of years in has been preventing me from doing what I want to do. I used to run in high school, and it had been such a big part of my life that I relied on it for friends and my social life. When I got to Ohio State, unable to run due to my disease, I found it extremely difficult not only to make friends but also to stay healthy and fit. I cycled through various means of exercises to no avail; swimming made my elbows bad, and running and biking made my knees bad. However, it was during this ordeal that I came to realize that running was not who I was, but something I did. I will never rely on it the same way again, and I am happy to say I’ve found other ways to be whole.

My Earth Month Action Plan helped me to grow in that it taught me that having a voice is not so hard. Sometimes, people are just waiting for someone else to make a change about something. I am glad that I could be the change, no matter how small. My choice to spread the word about mental health and mental health stigma has impacted my life in a very meaningful way. I know so many people who suffer from various mental illnesses, and I want to fight for them. They are stronger than anyone could imagine, and I am truly inspired by each one of their stories. I will continue to inform people about mental health, and I will take everything I learned with me while I find out how I can help people who suffer from mental illnesses in a job or career setting.

My choices to live differently have been mainly due to my disease and my school. Both require changes in order to live a healthy lifestyle; if I was still the same person as when I got here, I do not believe I would be as happy or content as I can say I am today. From the world around me, I have been taking in as much as I possibly can. I have been enjoying the various snippets of nature around the Columbus area, meeting new people, and stepping outside of my comfort zone into the world unknown to me. I have been giving back kindness as much as possible, as that seems to be the greatest way anyone can be the change they wish to see in the world.

 

Mid-Action Plan Check In

My first two weeks of action have gone okay. I ended up changing some things around and replaced one of my actions with something different. Instead of using my second week to create posters, I decided to spread awareness inside my own dorm by posting a new mental health fact everyday. I did this because I actually noticed a lack of understanding mental health in my own living quarters. Something I think I need to focus on is giving myself the time to perform my actions to the extent that I want to. It has been difficult remembering each day, especially with final exams approaching quickly.

I have learned just how easily people will embrace the stigma associated with mental health. If anything, beginning this action plan has opened my eyes and made me notice more stigma than I had before beginning. Not only was misunderstanding occurring in my own living space, but I know that I myself have also fallen prey to believing certain things about mental health that either are not true or are over-exaggerated. I have also learned that it can be extremely difficult to stick to the plan. Life happens, and I actually broke my finger during the second week of my action plan; I therefore may be less able to do some of the things I had planned for future weeks.

In my final weeks, there are several challenges I face. I have to figure out how to adapt my plans to my broken finger, and I also need to balance my action plans with studying for exams. I am worried about both of these, but I know I am fully capable of problem solving and budgeting my time. Remembering to stay flexible is going to be the key; I will certainly have to be okay with straying from my original plans in order to accommodate the things that are happening in my life and in my surroundings.

 

Earth Month Action Plan

For the first week of Earth Month, I plan on taking the pledge to “stamp out stigma”, and sharing this pledge with people I know in order to raise awareness. For the second week, I plan on creating posters to spread awareness throughout Ohio State. In my third week, I will spread these posters across campus to raise awareness. Finally, I hope in my fourth week to either complete a piece of artwork promoting mental health awareness or a video promoting mental health awareness.

I think it might be difficult to spread the word about taking the “stamp out stigma” pledge. I want to share it in a way that will get people’s attention, so that it isn’t just something they brush over on social media. Creating the posters may be a challenge because I have to deal with printing. I get free printing at the psychology undergraduate computer lab, but that is only in black and white. I may try to create posters that only need to be in black and white, but I want to do so successfully. Spreading the posters across campus will be challenging due to the fact that, quite simply, our  campus is huge. I will have to plan exactly where I want my posters to be seen. The most challenging task I will complete is either the piece of artwork or video to raise awareness. This is mainly due to the time aspect, as it will be finals week and I will be worrying about all of my exams coming up. I am hoping to work on whatever it is I decide to do throughout the entire month, but plan on finishing it up in the fourth week of Earth Month.

Non-Profits Reflection

Based upon what I heard in class from our guest speakers, many of my previous thoughts about non-profits have been confirmed. One of the largest problems that both speakers discussed was funding. Neither organization could say for sure that they had a sufficient amount of money that they could use to run their organization, or that funding would always be around for them to use at will. They also said that, with non-profits, it can be very difficult in general to deal with money, as many times federal grants must be used a certain way. Each speaker also discussed the necessity of regularly scheduled volunteers. It was obvious that, even if sometimes people want to get involved with their issue, the time commitment would likely scare them off or prevent them from helping at their fullest potential.

An additional thing to consider when exploring my issue will be how to get people involved with my issue without a large time commitment or at a low cost. My biggest takeaways from this class session were that 1) money matters, and 2) people may want to help, but may not always have the time to do so. After my initial assignment on this lens and the discussion we took part in during class, I would like to personally get people involved with my issue, and make them feel as though they can make a difference without too much of a time commitment. I’m not yet sure what this entails, but I am excited to see where this idea leads me.

Through the Lens: Non-Profits

Non-profits are working in several different ways to make an impact with my issue. Upon exploration, however, I have found that there really are not many non-profits that are working to discover the source of mental illness stigmas or how to get rid of them. Most of the non-profits, I have found, are aimed more towards counseling services (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong). However, I think a non-profit should exist that aims to educate people on mental illness and get to the root of why people do not seek care.

Myself and others can get involved with addressing my issue through non-profits by finding one that strikes home and donating to it. People can also make suggestions to the organizations that already exist as to how they can improve. Volunteering is also a big way in which people can get involved with the issue they hold close to heart. If a person cares enough about the issue, they are likely to find a way to volunteer their time to it.

Unfortunately, there are many challenges that exist for a person seeking to get involved with a non-profit organization in the mental illness area. First of all, there may not be a non-profit for the type of work a person wants to donate to. It can be frustrating to find a non-profit that holds every aspect that a person wants. Obviously, not just anyone can start up a non-profit, either. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and funding to start something big such as a successful non-profit.

The most important things to consider when viewing mental health through a non-profit work lens is how involved you can and want to be with the non-profit, whether you are willing to donate to a group that may not meet all of your criteria, and where funding will come from if you are planning on starting a non-profit. Relying solely on donations is probably a risky route, so you will want to find several alternative options as well.

In terms of the three models of Justice-oriented citizenship, many organizations that exist now are meeting the first two citizen types: personally responsible and participatory citizenship. Many of the non-profits in the mental health field are giving care to those who need it, and organizing the means through which they can receive that care. What I am not seeing a lot of is the third citizen type, social-justice oriented citizen. The organizations I have seen do not seem to be asking themselves why mental health is an issue or what the root causes for mental health stigmas are.

The Ted Talk I found (posted below) is called “How to Start a Movement”. There were no existing Ted Talks that I could find specifically about mental health non-profits, but this talk shows, in my opinion, how to make the most impact out of what may be a non-profit organization (or anything, for that matter). My main takeaway is this: leaders are overrated. It is the first follower that has the most influence. What is amazing is that I have the potential to be “the first follower”, and so does anyone else who cares and wants to make a change in the world.

Lens Reflection: Political Action

Hearing what Council Member Brown has had to say in regard to political action has mainly confirmed what I already know to be true. A lot of change that may be necessary does not necessarily get funded by the state and federal government, even when it is agreed upon as being necessary by almost everyone. This is the biggest concern with my issue. What Brown said about the subway system that the city needs oddly made me think of mental health. Nearly everyone in the Council can agree upon the fact that Columbus is in need of a subway-type service, but the funding necessary for it just is not there yet. This is exactly my concern with mental illness. Nearly everyone can recognize that it is an issue, however, the means necessary to implement any policy are restricted from the lack of funding given by the federal and state government.

My biggest takeaway from this discussion was the means in which a single person can best spark change in the eyes of Council Member Brown. She said that the best way to get the attention of local government is to directly call the representatives and talk to them. This is something that I had already expected, but I was surprised at how much confidence Brown had in this means for change. Our Council Members and representatives really are here to serve the community (in most cases), and so it is up to the community to bring forth the issues it sees as the most necessary to attend to. I think personally I may consider doing research on the representatives of Columbus and even Ohio, and to call those people and talk to them about mental health and the needs that must be addressed.

Through the Lens: Political Action

Politics and governance impact my issue because often times politics determine the availability of care and funding for mental health. In addition, laws and regulations enforce the specifics of what is not allowed in terms of mental health care. In the media, we generally do not hear very much about the standing of candidates on mental health. According to Mental Health in America, mental health crosses lines. It does not matter if someone is conservative or liberal; the need for mental health awareness and assistance is widespread. Mental illness does not care if a person is a democrat or a republican; it will effect whomever it chooses. According to an article posted by NBC News, many of the 2016 presidential candidates, both republican and democratic, agree on the fact that mental health is an issue that does not seem to get the attention it deserves.

Unfortunately, with such little national attention focused upon mental health, it is often up to local government and communities to make a difference. Local governments must act in order to make care more readily available. Many of the movements that are occurring in this field are occurring through various nonprofit organizations. Although this is a great thing, there is a dire need for political action. I wish I could discuss all the ways that politicians and local governments are removing mental health stigmas and making care more readily available, but really that does not appear to be the reality. If people really want to make political action or get involved with the issue, they have to make it obvious that they care. If the people of the United States show that mental health is a huge problem, then the politicians that run the government will have to put forth more effort in order to meet those demands.

I would argue that, in the case of mental health, it does not matter incredibly much who we vote for; nearly everyone agrees that mental health is an issue. However, this may not always be the case, and it is important to find out each candidate’s view before casting your vote to elect them. Mental health may not seem like a political issue, but it certainly is. Sadly, there are many challenges to political action. For example, it would be extremely difficult to get any major legislation passed in the national government due to the harsh process that each bill must be put through. In addition, if someone wanted to run for office at the local level, it would require serious dedication and, yes, even money. In order to get elected, people have to know you, and in order for people to know you, you have to campaign. The best way to get involved with my issue is to start small. Raising awareness, sending letters to the local government, and paying attention to views on mental health are all ways that a person can get involved. When viewing mental health through a political lens, it is most important to consider just how each issue can be operationalized into law or policy.

The Ted Talk I found is titled, “Bringing Peace to the Minds of Afghanistan”, and deals mental health in the case of a foreign country. This Ted Talk can be found at the following web address: https://www.ted.com/talks/inge_missmahl_brings_peace_to_the_minds_of_afghanistan#t-286298 My major takeaway from this was the enormity of the possibilities in helping those who suffer from mental illness. The fact that Missmahl was able to develop serious change in the world is the very definition of what my project is for this semester. Although it is unlikely that I will be provided funding to kick off a training of mental health professionals to serve in Afghanistan, I am pleased to see that someone somewhere is really making a difference.

Works Cited
“Mental Health in America – Election Year: Mental Health and Politics.” Mental Health America. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017. <http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/mental-health-america-election-year-mental-health-and-politics>.
Witkin, Rachel. “Where the 2016 Candidates Stand on Mental Health Issues.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2017. <http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/where-2016-candidates-stand-mental-health-issues-n524826>.

 

Issue Exploration and Choice

The three issues I have chosen to explore are climate change, sustainable energy, and mental health. Climate change is significant for both society and myself. Even if the effects of climate change are not severe enough to cause damage to my own life, it very well may cause harm to the lives of my children or grandchildren. With sustainable energy, significance again lies on myself and society. If society can adapt to more sustainable forms of energy, I too will have to adapt to them. Again, mental health is significant both for myself and for society as a whole. People do not treat mental illness with the concern it deserves. I have many friends who suffer from mental illness, but feel trapped because of the way our society functions. This can be devastating, as they constantly battle something that nobody can see.

I chose to explore climate change because it strikes me as one of the most pressing issues in the world today, and one that is severely underestimated. I recently took a class here at Ohio State on climate change, and in all honesty, the information was a slap to the face. I wish that everyone in the world knew the things that I know now about how our climate is changing. In terms of society, climate change will effect every aspect. The very way in which our society functions will potentially be destroyed. With a world that not only is hotter, but also has more devastating storms take place, it is very likely that cities on the coast will be destroyed. This is due partly to the fact that the sea levels are rising, but also for a variety of other factors.  If coastal cities are hit with some sort of storm, say a hurricane, the economy of that nation will suffer immensely. For example, New York City lies directly on the coast. If the U.S. were to lose New York City, the effects would be astronomical. In terms of the environment, many species that we think of as normal now may be driven to extinction (Bevis & Rissing, 2016).

I chose to explore sustainable energy because, to me, it is one thing that must be built on in order to better control how far our climate will warm. The economics behind sustainable energy are complicated, and also quite simple. If the demand of sustainable energy rises, the prices will drive down. People will then be more willing to purchase these forms of sustainable energy. Right now, it can still be quite pricy to build a wind farm. However, the price we pay now may save countless lives of the future. The environment will thank us very much if we switch to sustainable energy. Like I said previously, climate change would be slowed and how far the climate warms may be swayed. Society is so stuck in the ways of things as they are that they may have a harder time adjusting, or being willing to adjust, to the new forms of energy that may be created. Overall, this topic is a very interesting one that I will continue to look into no matter if I research it for this class (Bevis & Rissing, 2016).

The final issue I have chosen to explore is mental health. Although unrelated to my previous two choices, this may be the most important to me of all. I chose this topic because it appeals to me. I wish to enter the field of mental health myself, perhaps becoming a counselor or therapist for those who suffer. I know about this issue from real-world experience. Some of my closest friends throughout my life have suffered from metal illness. They spend a lot of money on medication, especially for something that society barely recognizes as a disease. If my friends are to call in sick due to their mental illness, they are likely to be turned down or even laughed at. If society would promote help rather than humor, more people may seek the help that they need. If more people seek help, then yes, it is even possible that more money would be put into the aspect of medication. I want to help people, but it is hard to help people that will not help themselves due to the barriers society sets up for them. In terms of the environment, I have found something extremely fascinating. People with mental illness that are exposed to green spaces generally show less severe signs of symptoms than those who are not (Mental Health, 2012).

I have chosen to explore the issue of mental health. I intend to explore this issue throughout the semester by doing research and raising mental health awareness in any way that I can. I think the biggest challenge I will experience will be coming up with new ways to raise awareness, but I am eager to take the necessary steps to be successful.

Works Cited

Bevis, M., & Rissing, S. (2016). EARTHSC 1911. Lectures presented in University Hall, Columbus, Ohio

Mental Health. (2012, December 31). Retrieved January 23, 2017, from    https://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/mental.htm

 

Columbus To-Do List Part Two

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For three of my five Columbus-to-do list events, Alyssa and I devoted a day to exploring Columbus. We first went to Kittie’s Cakes. I purchased a cookies and cream cupcake, and it was very good! I want to try all of the different flavors that they have, especially the buckeye cupcake. I would definitely recommend this to a friend who is craving a darn good cupcake. I would return here, but only if I very much need a cupcake. It was good, but cupcakes are not my favorite sweet. I will probably try their whoopie pies if I ever do go back.

img_7400Next, Alyssa and I walked over to Pistachio Vera. This was amazing. Pistacia Vera easily makes my top two list, although I am saving the best for last. I purchased an apple butter macaron, and I felt extremely fancy for doing so. I have only ever had a macaron once before this, and that macaron was also from Pistacia Vera. I must say, I am a huge fan. Not only are the macarons delicious and adorable, there are also TONS of other yummy looking foods here. I mean, seriously, I could have just bought the entire store. The fact that they sell coffee is an added bonus. I would recommend this to a friend any day, and will definitely be returning here so that I can buy more delicious macarons.

 img_7390Our Columbus adventure came to an end when Alyssa and I finished at Graeter’s Ice-cream. I had never been to Graeter’s, and now I know exactly where to take my friends and family who come to visit me at Ohio State. This ice cream is amazing. Given, I love almost every ice cream there is (hence why I am doing the dessert-themed Columbus to-do list). However, this was a very unique ice cream experience. Although I did not like the atmosphere as much as Jeni’s, I thought the actual ice-cream was pretty darn good. In order to compare it to Jeni’s in terms of flavor, I think I’ll need to return to each place and try more flavors. I got Graeter’s signature flavor, black raspberry chocolate chip. I do not generally get fruity ice-cream since I like vanilla-based flavors so much, but this was very good. I would absolutely come here again!

img_7285My absolute favoritimg_7402e destination during my Columbus to-do list experience has been Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop. This was so much fun. I went with my family when they were down visiting, and they loved it! The shop itself is awesome- there are unique signs hung all over the walls, and there is candy and soda everywhere. I got a huge bag of frooties, which is probably my favorite candy ever that I can never find anywhere! I also got a black cherry cream soda. I don’t normally drink pop because I do not like the way it tastes, but cream soda is different. If it wasn’t so bad for me, I would drink that stuff all the time. By far, this place is a necessity for people to go to. It is not a matter of if I will be returning, but when.

In terms of the city of Columbus, I have learned that it really is not at all difficult to navigate and get around. Taking the buses is honestly easy, and as long as you are in town there is a bus stop to get you where you need to go. I feel a lot less restrained to campus now that I’ve gone exploring, and that is a great feeling. Going through Columbus with Alyssa has lead me to want to discover more parks, as some of her list that we completed had parks on it. I realized that getting to parks and green spaces was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I would recommend that anyone who completes this list spreads it out and allows for full enjoyment of each experience. Take your family to some of the places, or go out and have a taste-test day like I did! Definitely bring someone, though, so that you can enjoy all the sweets together.

Career Exploration

Right now, I am in the reality testing step of the career exploration process. I have found both the things I am good at and the things I like to do, and am attempting to merge them into one career: art therapy. The way I came about this career is actually quite random, but it suites me exceedingly well. I was at work one day, and all of my coworkers who were in college were discussing their majors and their futures. They turned to me and asked the million dollar question: “what career are you going to pursue?”.  This question was starting to really get under my skin, as I was only a junior in high school at the time and got asked about my future at every family and social event a person could name. I told them my typical answer, “I have no idea”. Instead of just nodding their heads and moving on like the rest of the world always seemed to, they paused and then decided to actually help me brainstorm ideas. We then discussed what I was both good at and fond of, and then one of my coworkers asked if I had ever looked into art therapy. My mouth got quite wide as she asked, because I truthfully had never heard of such a thing. As soon as she said it, I knew exactly what I would try to pursue. I started doing loads upon loads of research for what it would take to become an art therapist. From completing this workshop, I actually learned that I know myself fairly well.

As soon as I found out that art therapy was an occupation, I felt as if I knew exactly what I was made to do. My code from the RIASEC test is ASI. This makes perfect sense for me, as I am highly artistic, I love getting to know people, and I also have an intellectual side. The second occupation listed by O*Net for my code was art therapist. I think seeing that was enough to know that I am in fact in the right place as a psychology major. Even if I do not choose to be an art therapist, there were many other careers I have thought about pursuing listed by the website. These included art therapist, music therapist, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, sociologist, counseling psychologist, mental health counselor, and clinical psychologist. These recommendations are perfectly in line with my current academic plans. I am currently majoring in psychology and minoring in art. I learned a few days ago that, since I came in with a decent amount of credit hours from my AP classes, it is likely that I will be done with all of my major and minor coursework by the end of my third year as a buckeye. There is a possibility that I will double major, study abroad, or even secure an internship for my final year at Ohio State. There is also a possibility of graduating early, but determining that will likely occur at a later date. My academic advisor said we would talk about what I could do later, but I am very excited to see the options I will have. Without taking that undetermined year into account, I plan on taking four years at Ohio State, then going on to graduate school to secure my masters degree.

According to what I already know about the field of art therapy, and backed by O*Net, art therapy has a very bright outlook. Although I sometimes am interested in other classes, I always go back to psychology. It is where I feel I fit in, and I truly feel as though it is where I am meant to be. I love helping others. I also feel as though I could talk to anyone, and still have a meaningful conversation. It is hard to explain. If there is anything that I have learned, it is that art truly has a positive effect on people. The term “art” is also extremely broad. Most people might think of drawing or painting, but it can be much more than that. As my current plan, I will focus on my studies and continue to explore different classes though the GE’s I choose. An important note is that my future is not determined by what career I choose. I truthfully do not care about the size of my house or the money in my pocket. I care about making a lasting impact on the world, and connecting with people in a way that will leave their lives changed for the better.