My passion for mental health stems from many different experiences. I have struggled with depressive episodes and manic episodes for a long time, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Anxiety and trauma have also taken over a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, since I was a child. My struggles and will to help people inspired me to advocate for these issues. Another interesting topic of research for me is addiction and substance abuse, which I look forward to working with more. I wouldn't change a thing about my experience or diagnoses because they have shaped me into the person I am today, showed me how to face challenges, as well as introduced me to my passion.
I am working on a Bachelor's in Psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology and afterwards I plan to attend a nursing program, followed by a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program. My undergraduate tracks are in Biopsychology and Clinical Psychology. My volunteer work, artwork, writing, and advocacy all revolve around mental health in some form.
I work with NAMI (mostly in the Rochester affiliate) and volunteer as a presenter for one of their national programs called "Ending the Silence", which is a program that is brought to middle school and high schools (now also faculty and parents) to teach kids about suicide, mental health, warning signs, etc. I am also on the Board of Directors at NAMI Rochester. I participate in Legislative Advocacy days in Albany, meeting with legislators and NYS Senators to talk about current issues and changes to be made regarding mental health. I also was awarded the 2018 NAMI Young Leader Award this year, which was such an honor.
I also work closely with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, participating in chapter meetings, discussions, event volunteering, and of course, participating in the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, while raising funds. In February, I joined the Monroe County Suicide Prevention Coalition, which is called Partners For Suicide Prevention. I am also trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Aside from my work with NAMI and other organizations, I use my social media as a platform for change. I post my story on many of my social media platforms and I have gotten a significant amount of positive messages and feedback from those in the community. Those who didn't think they had a voice starting reaching out and expressing their feelings and struggles. Speaking out is a chain reaction. I have high hopes to bring NAMI on Campus to RIT, and believe it will make a big impact for the campus. I have been working on this since October 2017.
I strive to learn more everyday and help spread mental health awareness. I hope we can all work towards a more open understanding of mental health and suicide prevention and bring forward change and hope. We all have a voice!