Today we’re featuring an excerpt from Ruth, a scholarship winner from Tennessee who recently earned her Mental Wellness Basics certification. Congratulations to Ruth for being one of our scholarship recipients!
Student: Ruth G.
Teacher: Victoria Nuss
School: MNPS Middle College High School
“The first important skill that I learned while taking the Mental Wellness Basics course was the significance of understanding mental illness and the way it influences and shapes the way a person acts and thinks.
I’ve had and still have friends who suffer from depression, and my close relative has schizophrenia, but I don’t think that I really grasped the full impact with which mental illness takes over their daily lives. In many cases, it’s truly shocking to see how depression can choke the joy out of someone without warning, and this EVERFI course definitely helped me understand and sympathize with people who face the awful reality that their own brain has turned against them.
The second important skill I learned involved coping skills having to do with mental illness. I have never been diagnosed with any disorder or mental illness, but I am a fairly anxious person by nature, and I have had panic attacks before, as well as some of the other symptoms of chronic anxiety.
Nearly all of the coping skills (if I can remember correctly, these included interrupting cycles of negative thoughts and recognizing the connections between thoughts, behaviors, and emotions in order to strengthen the positives in each of them) were things that I had thought of trying, but not actually implemented. Since I took the course, I have tried several of the coping strategies, and not only have they helped me to stay calm in stressful situations, but they have improved my daily life and lessened my panic attacks.
The third most important skill that I learned while taking this EVERFI course was how to identify negative self-talk and to reframe it using positive thinking. As the course states, when you tell yourself kind things, it creates a positive thought-behavior-emotion cycle, but when you tell yourself unkind things, it creates a negative cycle. Even though people with a mental illness make up about twenty percent of the United States population, everyone talks down to themselves occasionally, and it took me a while to realize that this kind of behavior is not, in fact, normal, and can really bring down your self-esteem.
The course reestablished that realization in my mind, especially as I scrolled through the different types of negative self-talk and noted that all of my friends at school, and myself, genuinely had talked to ourselves like that before. This EVERFI course helped me to remember that negative self-talk should not be normalized at all.”