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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SFA chapter.

This week, on Wednesday the 25th, I had the opportunity to speak on a Mental Health panel. The purpose of the panel was to educate those in attendance on the reality of mental illnesses among minority students of color on campus. The turnout for the panel was amazing and it was such an eye-opening experience as even those in the audience were vulnerable and shared their stories and struggles with mental illness.

I also had the opportunity to sit down with the founder of the panel, Jasmine Hassan, to ask her a few questions:

1. What was your goal for creating this panel?

“My main goal of creating this panel was for me to have an outlet to talk about the issues that are present on our campus and just in colleges in general and just not the delays, per se, but the inconsistencies we have when treating students with mental illnesses. When I had a severe mental health crisis, I ended up going to the hospital. I had a job in a previous department, and they ended up terminating me when I was released from the hospital. I could no longer work for them anymore. I just feel like there are a lot of inconsistencies when it comes to mental illness. Me going through that situation helped me create this panel so we can talk about these issues.”

2. What do you hope people that will attend will get out of it?

“I hope that anybody that is a person of color or has just heard about mental illness but never saw anything active on campus can come and really learn that all different types of people that have the same mindsets and the same beliefs that mental illness is real and that, we as a society, love to shame and conceal mental illnesses. The truth is: just like you get sick with your body, you can get sick with your brain. Just providing the proper education and providing a safe place for those with mental illness.”

3. What experiences, if any, do you have with counseling services on campus?

“I go through the counseling services that are located in the Rusk building and they offer you four sessions for free per semester. I have been going to them since I first came to SFA. My previous therapist back at home in Houston recommended me and she even went out of her way to call the department and tell them ‘I have a patient coming here. I want her to utilize services there.’ I have been going to the same therapist since then. This counseling service has definitely grown and has helped me significantly.”

4. If you could give any advice to someone struggling with a mental illness, what would it be?

“All I would say is that someone is watching you and someone is hearing you. Just look for that person. Just keep on pushing. There’s always hope.”

5. Do you believe that everyone, even those without mental illness, would benefit from counseling?

“Definitely. I think that everyone needs someone to talk to. A lot of people think that you have to have problems and that you just sit and complain but really counselors are people that help you implement skills and restructure the way your brain thinks to make it more positive. It’s not just for people with mental illness but those with mental illness definitely need to be in counseling.”

6. Do you have experience taking medication?

“Yes, I do. I’ve been taking medication since I was 16 years old. Before I was taking medication, I was in a whirlwind of emotions. Everything was so overwhelming. I was so anxious, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t sleep. As soon as I started medication, everything balanced out. I wasn’t going haywire anymore. Medication is for people that feel their symptoms are causing a lot of disruption in their daily life.”

7. What helps you when your mental health isn’t good? And what are your coping skills?

“Support from everyone. I’ve noticed that I benefit when I’m around people that encourage and support me. That’s what keeps me going. I have identified my triggers and what makes me happy. The first thing that I do is determine whether I’ve taken a shower, eaten, etc. When we neglect ourselves, we end up tiring ourselves out.”

This is only the beginning and I hope that this is the start of a campus-wide discussion about mental illness!

To make an appointment with SFA Counseling Services, call: 936-468-2401

Photo Credit: LaShauna Bell 

Brittany Malone is a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University where she is majoring in Psychology and is on a pre-med track. In her free time, Brittany enjoys reading books, writing stories, and obsessing over Treasure Planet. 
Hello Everyone! My name is Laura Restrepo and I go to SFA. I plan to major in psychology so I can use my degree to help others and make this world a better place. I am a writer for Her Campus. I love to read anything and everything whether its books, magazines, blogs, fan-fiction, journals, etc. I enjoy all types of music; I am open to anything. I am also a huge nerd for Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit series. In conclusion, the perfect day for me consists of these things with coffee and cold weather.