I think good mental health is knowing 
that even though today wasn't the best day   and not everything went according to my plan, I'm 
gonna wake up tomorrow and I'm gonna try again.   It's the ability to be able to deal with everyday situations, good 
or bad, positive or negative, to the best of   your abilities. So to me good mental health 
is always finding the energy you need to try.   We teach all kinds of coping mechanisms to other 
people, we tell other people how they could   you know, live their life in a better way all the 
time. We always forget to like imply those same   rules on our life. I don't understand why 
everybody else's emotions are so much more   important than our own. I have actually had an 
interesting battle with mental health issues. um   so in the final year of my high school, I got into 
this terrible accident which eventually led me to   have ptsd, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and 
that is something that I lived with for two years.   When we boil it down it's you reliving one 
incident, or more than one incident that   happened with you, over and over again.

It's when 
your trauma doesn't let you let you escape. It's   when it holds on to you and it makes you feel like 
you're reliving it every day even if you're not.   So that doesn't just come with, you know, one 
particular thing, that oh my god I'm thinking   about my trauma over and over. No it is insomnia, 
it is panic attacks, it is always being hyper   vigilant, um you're on quite honestly, most 
people that have suffered through this know   that they're always scared like something's 
gonna happen at any second.

It's anxiety, it's   extreme depression, it's not being 
able to feel any form of joy, and just when I was getting over… So there was 
a very small period between when I got over   it and when I started college so uh it's not 
something that I'm completely absolutely over   but I will say I'm 90 percent better. It's still 
something that comes back to me often on and off,   and I believe that this has been one of 
the most greatest and most gruesome battles   I've ever had to um fight in my life. And 
especially coming from a society like mine,   I come from Pakistan, I'm an international 
student here so um… I come from Pakistan and   mental illness is incredibly stigmatized. It 
reflects very poorly on a family's lineage   and can influence others beliefs about 
the sustainability of an individual. So every single time you actually start talking about 
mental health in our society you are expected to   shut up.

You are not expected to say 
it out loud, you're not expected to   uh, let others be aware about it. 
Sure if you're struggling with it,   keep it to yourself. Don't be verbal and vocal 
about it because going to… Since we come   from such tightly knit family cultures going to 
therapy and asking for help is a lot harder to do   in um Asian and Middle Eastern cultures 
when compared to other cultures because   it stresses uh, like our cultures they stress 
that family or community can meet a person,   like all a person's needs, and this has 
kind of like perpetuated this concept that   individuals should not seek professional help when 
they're relying on their family and community.   So even though this was something that I was 
always consciously or subconsciously aware of,   when it happened with me it hit me like a 

I was so shocked by it and I thank   god so much that i have two incredible parents who 
got me the help I needed when i needed it. I knew   that this is something that I want to 
work towards for the rest of my life,   and to help destigmatize these areas where mental 
health awareness benefit greatly. Because there's   so many people who just go undiagnosed 
for years constantly just living in this,   you know, bottle and being suffocated in there 
due to their own brains. Once i went to therapy   and started talking about my trauma I start, I 
realized that just talking wasn't enough for me   so then I started actually consciously 
working on myself. Which meant I was also   looking into religious alternatives because I 
am a religious person, and i feel like whenever   you analyze a person and know that their 
relationship with god is somewhat strong,   let them depend on it a little bit too. So therapy 
is not always just going to therapy, it's also   a it's an amalgamation of things. 
So for me specifically it was   going to sessions or talking about my trauma.

tried to talk about it every day at least once so   that i could get more used to it but that was just 
my way of coping. It's not medically diagnosed   relying on god, and knowing that there's an 
entity out there who is protecting me but   it doesn't have to be the same for people who are 
not religious or don't believe the same way. And   the third and the last exercise I, that is when I 
started working on my body. That's when I started   working on um making better changes because um, 
my accident left me with visible scars, so every   time I looked at them it triggered me.

So once I 
started working on my body I was able to neglect   some of the flaws that I had started seeing on 
myself. So um, for me it was doing multiple things   and at the end of the day every night before I 
tried to go to bed. I was telling myself that   even if today was hard we're gonna try the next 
day, we're gonna try the day after, we keep trying   because I like myself and this person that I 
look in the mirror is not someone I recognize.   Sure so I want, I want the girl who used to 
be happy and excited all the time and jumps   on someone, who's excessively loud. I want that 
girl back because she's someone most people like   and she's someone I like, and I am 
not fond of the person I've become.   So this was more to be happy with myself 
than it was to just be okay in general,   because you can be okay and still not be 

I personally, once I came here,   I was homesick for a little bit and that was 
actually triggering everything else, so once   I felt like I wasn't in a comfort zone once, I 
felt like I wasn't in a place where I absolutely   felt like home, which is very different now. But 
um in the first month or two months actually I   struggled a lot with trying to fit in not because 
it was a cultural shock. But because where I am   I barely have much community around me that 
resonates with me um or any family whatsoever.   So and this is my first time, this was my my first 
time living away from home um so knowing that my   family is like 3,000 miles away and there's nobody 
I can fall back on that is something that can   sometimes be very challenging and emotionally 

So um I went to our counseling center   multiple times and we have therapy sessions where 
we actually not only listen to the set of student,   not only do actual counseling, but also 
teach them coping mechanisms and how they can   cope with their situation much better. And it 
doesn't just help you with that it also helps you   with your classes Say you're having issues with a 
class we can actually reach out to your professors   with your permission and say that okay this 
student is struggling with something can we just   pay a little extra attention.

Or if you're having 
trouble organizing your life in general and   your classes in general, that is something 
that they help with too. And then we have   c3 program that is called College Community 
Connections, and they can connect you with   multiple resources off-campus in the community 
if, should you need therapy should you need help.   So in that entire, you know, community, it's just 
that we have built on campus there are multiple   resources that a student can use in 
order to help themselves. For me I think   the first step towards destigmatization is 
always going to be educating people.

Educate   people about mental health and why it is not a 
taboo and why it shouldn't be a hush-hush thing   It's not something that you're supposed 
to take and carry with yourself   every single day It's not supposed to 
be a burden. We're humans and we're,   most of us I believe are capable of emotions and 
feelings. That's who we naturally are. Our natural   instinct is to feel we don't know enough about how 
therapy and how going to a therapist can actually   benefit you.

We think that we're only supposed to 
go to them when we're struggling through something   or when we're going through a crisis. Uh-uh. 
Therapy should just be a year-round thing. You   should just go to therapy for the sake of going 
to therapy. You should go in there and talk about   how you, you're feeling, how your week has been. 
It's something that helps you sort out your life   and sort out your emotions, and help you realize 
and pinpoint what made you happy, what made you   sad, what are the things you like, what things 
you don't like. It's an immensely powerful tool   and I believe that across SUNY campuses we are 
providing students with multiple opportunities to   access these facilities throughout their school 
years, for free. Your school is making sure the   therapy isn't a burden, so when you have that 
resource when you can actually go in and just yell   out – I hate my professor! My classes suck! Math 
is hard! I hate biology! Just go in to say that.   And we laugh about it so much that we just 
need to go into a panic room and scream out   that that's what therapy is.

Go there, talk about 
what's bothering you. It doesn't even have to be,   oh my god, I feel depressed, oh my god 
i feel like i am struggling through a   traumatic situation. Oh something happened. 
No, it can just be I had a very rough week.   My peanut butter sandwich fell out of the 
window, my classes were terrible, my professor   is difficult. I got a 70 instead of 90 on my 
test and I just feel like this week sucked. That is as important as going into therapy and 
saying, hey I went through this and I don't know   how to deal with it. Help me cope with. It, it's 
just as important. You're not a crazy person to   want to go and talk to somebody. It is not a bad 
thing to ask for help. A lot of the students that   I've seen, even on my campus sometimes, they 
feel like asking for help not just mentally,   academically, professionally, socially… they 
feel like asking for help makes them seem like   a weak person. Like they don't know how to 
hold up on their own. Reaching out trying,   getting help never hurts anybody.

There is no 
bad outcome from it. So start with one day at   a time, and if you feel like your struggle has 
intensified, you can't cope with things anymore, and you're not okay with going to therapy, seek 
a friend or your teachers. Most of our teachers   are qualified enough to help you get through a 
situation. And when your teachers know you're   struggling, they're more likely to help you. 
Because a teacher can't tell that you're not   going to make your assignment because 
you're not in a, in the right headspace.   You have to let your teacher know that. I 
have realized that talking to my professors   and connecting with my professors has made a world 
of a difference in my education.

Because not only,   listen, also little tip off the entire issue of 
mental health… if your teachers know who you are   and they can recognize your face, they're more 
likely to give you better recommendation letters   because they know you as a person. But coming back 
to mental health, if your teacher doesn't know   you're struggling and you don't tell them you're 
struggling, they're just gonna think you're like   every single other student in the class who is 
either working in the right head space with the   right resources at the right time, but still not 
making assignments, which is going to make you   make them dislike you more because, because of you 
they have to check papers at the, in the next week   which they shouldn't have. But yes, speak to your 
professors, talk to your teachers, tell them you're   struggling. And they don't have to know the details 
of it just tell them hey, I'm sorry I'm letting you   know this but I know that it's not, uh, it's unfair 
of me to ask for extra time or stuff like that,   because some teachers don't do that, but I'm not 
in the right head space.

I don't have the energy   or the will in me to be able to complete this task. 
I'm trying to find it, and actually try to find it,   and work from there. And then if you have therapy 
on campus, I can't recommend that enough. I can't   recommend therapy enough. Go to therapy just 
for the sake of it. Do it for shits and giggles.   Just do it so you can come out of the room and 
tell your friends, oh I went to therapy today.   Um, but do it because once you get into that 
safe space, once you try opening up, once you   try to talk about what is happening in your 
day-to-day life and how you're making it through…   because like I said we're all 
struggling in one way or another.   Once you start talking about those 
struggles you're going to realize   how easy it's going to become to deal with them, 
because when you pinpoint an issue it's very easy   to find a solution.

When you don't know what 
the problem is it's harder to find a solution.   If you don't know you have to find the value of 
x, you're never going to find the value of x, so go ahead and reach out because 
that's going to help you the most..



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