By Joseph Homsey—Being an advocate for justice means being someone who will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, or those who seek help because they know they cannot do it alone. A social issue that has been repeatedly brought up lately, unfortunately, is suicide and mental illness. John Jay College students are the future advocates for justice, including when it comes to mental health.
Our society needs to be taught that mental illness is not something to be afraid or ashamed of. It is a real issue that people all around are dealing with, whether you know it or not. And the people who have some sort of mental illness and are not dealing with it professionally, they’re finding other ways to personally cope. However, you never know what someone is going through on the inside, which is why as advocates, we need to do our part to help those around us so that they may go on and live a better life and lead someone else to live a better life too.
Many people have both heard of and seen 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix original series. This Netflix series dives deep into various topics that can greatly impact someone’s mental state including bullying, sexual assault, and violence, all among teenagers. Unfortunately, these are also real issues in the world that people experience every day, including teenagers just like the ones in the show. All of these issues are also things that John Jay College of Criminal Justice enables us to one day be a part of the conversation to stop.
As advocates for social justice and people continuing to change the climate and stigmas surrounding mental health, and as people who care, below are thirteen reasons why anyone who feels like they need help should seek it:
- Family: Your family is made up of the people who love you the most. They are the people who will be there for you no matter what, even if it doesn’t feel like it. A family can be made up of whoever you want, including really good friends who are so important to you that they are held higher than anyone else.
- Friends: These are the people who are there for you when your family is not. Friends are the people who look out for you and lead you down the right path, through the perspective of someone else your age. They are the people to count on, to share experiences with, and to grow together with.
- Love: This is the emotion that keeps people going every day. Love is given from all angles whether it is family, friends, or a partner. It is the feeling you get deep down inside that you feel through your bones when a strong connection is made with someone.
- Time: No matter what you’re going through, time heals all wounds. As each day passes, things will get better and then you will get to a point that what was bothering you is simply just part of your past. So always remember that today may be tough, but tomorrow will be a little better.
- Nature: The great outdoors are remarkable and truly inspiring and thought provoking. It provides a place for recreation and meditation. It shows how calm the world can actually be if you simply stop, sit down, and listen.
- Faith: Like love, faith is something that is believed through your core. To have faith is to believe that someone or something is up in the sky looking after you; hoping for the best for you. Faith is worth holding on to because when things get rough, you will always have your faith to guide you.
- Knowledge: Knowledge is power, and there is always more that can be learned, and always more that can be taught. By continuing to learn you can expand what you know and share it with others. You can also find new things to make you happy, and new ways to make a difference in the world.
- Culture: We live in a world of diversity where many cultures have different things to offer. Experience those cultures through travel, traditions, food, and celebrations. Perhaps you will find one that suits who you are on the inside more than your current one.
- Laughter: Laughter is one of the best medicines in the world, which no one should miss out on. It’s a sign of fun, friendship, and love. Laughter is a form of expression that shows true happiness. Think of a baby laughing as their parents tickle them, and you will feel joy all throughout.
- Fantasy: Many people get true enjoyment by engaging their imagination with stories and videos that think outside of our day to day life and outside of our world. In your own world of imagination, you can be who you want to be and like what you want to like.
- Survivors: Whatever you’re going through, you are not alone. Other people have gone through it too. The people who share your experiences can help you through it.
- Followers: As people have come before you, others will also come after you. As someone who is strong enough to get through anything, you will have the power to impact change in the world so that those who follow will have an even easier time than you.
- You: You are beautiful, smart, funny, and caring. You have so much to offer the world and the people who care about you. You owe it to yourself to get up every morning and live your life to the fullest.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, and not everything may apply to everyone or every situation. However, it will keep the conversation moving in the right direction about mental health, and how to help those who feel helpless. We have all struggled and we have all had bad days, but at the end of the day we get to close our eyes and hit the reset button, because each morning is a new day, and each new day is a new beginning.
Joseph Homsey graduated from John Jay College in 2013 with a BA in Forensic Psychology, and is currently in the MPA program.