May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In many cultures, we are often taught not to speak of such things. We are taught not to show our suffering, to simply smile and move forward, which can cause greater damage for us in the long run, especially amongst our *juventud. Young adults between 18-25 have the highest prevalence of mental illness compared to adults 26-49 and 50 and older.
John Jay High School graduate, Sonia Garcia (18), speaks with Norteno 210’s Natasha Gonzales defining mental illness as, “some bumps in our mind that can stop us or that can make some barriers to ourselves…affecting us in a way that we just can’t keep going.” Garcia, who has dealt with anxiety in the past, is aware of her triggers and coping mechanisms, admitting that overeating (like many of us) has been her sense of relief at times. As a healthier alternative, she uses the aesthetics of nature, relaxing under the blue sky as a means of escape from internal thoughts.
“I think adults should start talking to kids when they turn 12, or something, so they can know about how they might feel in the future or how they are feeling at the moment. So it’s kinda like preventing them [from isolating]themselves,” Garcia comments. Having people who support her, such as her mom, has been a guiding light through her journey. She carries the positivity her mother has spoken into her life everywhere she goes, often relying on her sage advice to see her through any darkness.
Garcia states, “just listening to music is a big escape for our minds. Even painting, reading, writing, whatever you want…that you feel some passion for. Well, put your passion in it and you might distract yourself from the illness or from something that is hurting you.” We often do not give enough credit to the wisdom our juventud do carry. Continue reaching out and using your passion as an outlet, gente. We are in this together.
If you or a loved one need help with mental illness, you can call NAMI Helpline 1-800-950-6264
Or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.