How My Mental Health Advocacy Turned Into Activism

I thought I was going to be just another girl talking about another global issue telling you that it should not be the way it is, but no. Recently life has given me the opportunity to change that. So now I am the girl that will tell you that the issue I am going to write about exists, it matters to me and I am making a difference — and more importantly, that if I can, so can you!

We’ve all gotten sick before right? Sprained an ankle, maybe even broken a bone? And we all know that if we’re hurt, we should go to the doctor. But tell me, how many of you have ever felt not okay? And how many of you would have hesitated before admitting that? That is where the problem lies. Because for some odd reason, we don’t view our mental health in the same light. We will all struggle with our mental health, yet will rarely –if ever– do anything about it.

The stigmatization of these topics has made it near impossible for us to recognize the overbearing presence of mental health struggles among our age demographic. Despite awareness and acceptance spreading through social media and our personal lives there are hundreds of people who have a mindset that mental health is something very different than what it is and have never experienced a mental health issue being openly discussed by families and friends in their lives before.

Although we have made great lengths towards demolishing it, there is still a huge social stigma attached to mental health, and people with mental illnesses still face discrimination in their day-to-day lives. But mental health problems are more common than the media and our society would lead you to believe. In today’s world, mental health is ridiculed to the point where the only mention of mental illnesses are when they’re used as a descriptor, derogatory term, joke, or some crude combination of all three. I mean, how many of us have heard –or even said– phrases along the lines of “I had like, a total panic attack about it.” or “ugh, exams make me feel so depressed”. One in four people in the world will be affected by a mental illness, yet our schools barely educate us on what these mental illnesses are.

But the lack of awareness isn’t the only issue – because even when people do talk about mental health what they forget is that the absence of physical self-harm and suicidal tendencies does not mean you’ll be fine. Just because you display no visual evidence of a breaking point, the crumbly peak of the cliff that threatens to collapse under your feet is still there.

I believe that now is the time for change. If we want to crush the stigma, we have to talk about it. We have to remind young girls that what they’re feeling is okay, we have to teach boys that it’s okay and not demasculinizing to talk about their feelings, and we have to have a long discussion, one that in time can hopefully change the general opinion on mental illness from one of embarrassment and laziness to one of strength and shamelessness.

And the crucial need for mental health to be taken more seriously has not only inspired me but motivated me to take it upon myself to make a difference in the world. Which is why I present to you; Education Emotion Project.

EEP is a project designed by 6 teens from around the world, who aimed at not only raising mental health awareness but also providing mental health resources available to all. EEP consists of three main factors: this website, a booklet, and a presentation. With each of these resources, we hope to make mental health education easily accessible and understandable to anybody because we need these resources at the ready, with mental health information known just as well as we know the Pythagoras Theorem. How we aim to combat the stigma is pretty simple actually; our formula is that increased awareness equals to decreased stigma

We want to not only to create a space that people can turn to in order to educate themselves but a space in which everybody can utilize our resources in order to raise awareness in their own communities. The stigma around mental health varies globally – such an example would be how as Muslims, we directly relate experiencing negative emotions with the lack of faith and submission to Allah; which results in a large part of the Muslim youth suffering due to a neglective attitude towards mental health – but anyways,  something that is undeniable is its presence everywhere. The only way to combat this stigma is to openly discuss these issues and reveal how real and prevalent they are to everyone.



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