Mental health is important to maintain balance in life, personal happiness, and reach people’s highest potential, said three BYU-Hawaii freshmen. They said their different upbringings and understanding of mental health influenced their perspective and willingness to talk about what was once taboo.
“To me, mental health is based around your cognitive well-being,” said Ethan Hopkin, a freshman from Ohio majoring in TESOL. “If it’s not being taken care of, it will have an adverse effect on you both physically and spiritually.”
To freshman Sarah Francis, an elementary education major from Illinois, to be mentally healthy is a baseline, or foundation, that helps people to be happy. “If I am not at my mental best during the day, then it’s so hard for me to do the things I want to do and need to do. It’s important to me because it impacts my happiness, my ability to feel connected to others, and it impacts the ability of me being the best me.”
To make campus a more mental healthy environment, Hopkin suggested people could strive to be friendly and empathetic. “You can’t really understand living with a mental illness unless you have actually had one”
In September, NBC News ranked Hawaii as one of the five happiest states in the United States. However, students interviewed said mental health is still one of their greatest concerns, especially since they are in college.
In different communities, students added, mental health is viewed in different lights.
Vikram Raj, a freshman from India studying business management, shared, “My family did not value [mental health] as much as I would have liked them to. Where I grew up in India, mental health is a big issue. There are many who care about it, but almost as many who do not see it as important. There are varying views on it, but everyone wants it to improve.”
Hopkin said, “Mental health is so important, but it’s something we’re only just starting to openly discuss.”
Raj shared he values mental well being more than anything because “It’s so important to be balanced. But letting too much stress or hurt take over is not good. And people should be aware of this and not ignore it.”
Raj said, “I was always happiest when I was serving people on my mission in North India. There is always room for us to improve people’s lives and their mental health, especially here.”