As I was sitting in class brainstorming ideas for my IDS applied project and research paper, I felt like I had so many ideas but none of them really excited me. Until, one of my previous teachers, Elaine Demello popped into my head. Fall semester of my junior year (2016), I took the class Mental Health Issues, taught by Elaine. I loved that class, and it definitely instilled my dream of becoming a Psychiatric nurse so I can help people suffering with mental illness. Elaine is a part time professor at PSU, but her full time job is through NAMI NH (National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Hampshire). This organization works closely with people who are struggling through mental illnesses, and their loved ones, in order to create a strong support and advocacy system. NAMI NH also does a lot of work in educating the public on mental/emotional illnesses, in order to fight the stigma that is associated with mental disorders.
I believe that NAMI NH is such an incredible organization that is so valuable to our community. Therefore, I contacted Elaine and she helped me come up with some ideas on how I can gain knowledge and experience in my field of study while working with NAMI NH for my applied project. I will be attending a couple different training seminars that NAMI is responsible for hosting. These sessions are free to the public, and the goal is to educate people and give people a voice so they feel like they can advocate for themselves or for their loved ones who are struggling with mental illnesses. One of the seminars that I will be attending is a Suicide Prevention training specifically for nurses. I am incredibly excited about this for two reasons, number one, I will soon be a nurse, and number 2, I think being educated on suicide prevention is essential for everyone in our society, no matter what your career path is. The second training that I will be attending is still up in the air, put it will be through the NAMI NH organization.
As someone who struggles with mental illness myself, I have personally felt stigmatized by people around me who just don’t seem to understand what I am going through. That is why for my research paper, I have decided to dive deeper into the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. I want to research why there even is a stigma? When did this stigma start? Why is it that physical illnesses such as diabetes are taken so seriously, however if someone were to tell you they have severe depression, it would be shrugged off, and not taken as seriously as the person with diabetes. And ultimately, I want to research what we can do as a society to stop this stigma?
I am really excited about both the research paper and the applied project. But mostly the applied project because it will give me lived experience and knowledge in the mental health field.