The general focus of my Interdisciplinary Studies major is the importance of physical and mental health. I combined; nursing courses, health courses, and psychology courses in order to label my major; Health Sciences. However, my major is so much more than that. Throughout my major I studied and advocated for the idea that a person’s physical health is equally as important as their mental and emotional health, in fact the two are inseparable.
I chose to work with NAMI NH (National Alliance for Mental Illness) for my applied project (AP), because I believe they are an incredible organization. I got the pleasure of attending and help run one of their informational training sessions. The session was titled Suicide Prevention for Nurses, which was so moving. Ann Duckless, who works for NAMI, did a great job using her knowledge to lead the session, and I was her right hand man, handing out papers, writing notes for her, etc. I learned so much about the importance of suicide, and different wants to prevent it. The session was directed towards nurses, because they often work hand in hand with patients considering suicide. I wish I had the opportunity to go to more trainings, unfortunately school got in the way. However, since my dream career goal is to be a mental health/psychiatric nurse, I am sure that I will have the pleasure to work with NAMI NH again.
For my research article (RA), I chose the topic of mental health stigma. I wanted to investigate why there is such a negative stigma against people with mental illnesses, and how we can prevent or stop this. My motivation for this topic came from the fact that I have several mental illnesses, and I have personally been stigmatized many times. Also, since I will be working with people who have mental illnesses in my career, I hope to further my knowledge about ways to stop stigma, in order to be the best possible nurse that I can be for my patients. The number one thing I learned, that is a simple and easy way to change the stigma, is by using the correct vocabulary when you are talking about mental illness. For example, you do not want to call someone suicidal, you want to say they attempted to take their lives by suicide. If you label them “suicidal” then that is the one and only thing that people will think of to define that person. Even though it is just a small fraction of who they are. Overall, I learned that we have come a long way when it comes to treating mental illnesses as a serious health issues, however we still have a long way to go before we truly get rid of the stigma.
Both my RA and AP helped me grow significantly as a person and as a student. Even though I have struggled with my own personal mental health issues for years, I still learned things about mental health that I did not know before. Holistic health care, which I believe to be vital to a person’s overall health, is the idea that a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are all equally as important to each other to make a person the healthiest they can possibly be, not one out ways the other. That is the way that I will treat each and every one of my patients when I am a nurse.