If you saw my post from yesterday, you know I started a new adventure in ultra marathon running. Since I am completely new to this, I thought I would start sharing things (products, training elements, etc) that are working (or not working) for me.
Every Wednesday I’ll do a “What works Wednesday”.
And since the reason I started this blog is to share my knowledge of mental wellness resources, I’ll be doing a “What works Wednesday” for that too!
For most people, if you or a loved one have ever been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, then I guarantee you know how important self-advocacy is. Learning about your health condition becomes a full-time job…in fact, the more rare your condition, the more time you will spend learning. My parents taught me early on (in high school) how to advocate for myself, so I was shocked when I started working in healthcare, to discover how little patients knew about their own health. And not only did they not know about their own health, they never questioned anything and often had little input when asked if they had questions.
I accompanied my grandma to one of her doctor visits when I was in my early twenties and embarrassed the shit out of her when I asked the doctor questions about his plan of care. I’ll never forget when he left the room to grab something and as soon as the door shut, she turned to me and said “what are you doing?! Why are you asking him questions? Just be quiet!” and I said “but you told me you had questions, so why don’t you ask them?” and she said “it doesn’t matter if he answers my questions, he knows best”. And I was stunned. I learned then just how much privilege I had that 1.) someone had taught me early on how to talk to a healthcare professional 2.) I knew I had the power to speak up and felt that I could without being punished for it. Here’s the thing, whether it’s a the doctor’s office, at the car repair shop, or on the phone with insurance, you deserve to have your voice heard and to get what you want. Now obviously, there are constructive ways of doing this and I’ll show you how.
Why is it important to start taking care of your mental health as a college student? Because statistically, the transition period between high school and college is a time when young adults are at risk for mental health challenges due to stress and significant change.
Finding good care early on can teach you the coping skills and resiliency that you need for college and as an adult.
“Holy crap! Did that guy just fall?” Standing in line in front of me at the concession stand of a minor league baseball game, an older man collapsed in front of me.
It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school and I was enjoying a night watching America’s favorite pastime. I, of course, had to get a cherry (the best flavor) ICEE between innings. I had a night off from my job as a certified nurses assistant at a nursing home and my summer sports practices, so I was going to indulge!
But in front of me, a man keeled over. Internally, I was freaked out, but I knew I had to do something. And then, my CPR training just took over. Those of us in line by him, got to him before the onsite paramedics, and began compressions. Thank goodness another man by us also had training in CPR and he and I took turns. Once paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital, I went back to my seat. What they never tell you in CPR training is that if you ever have to actually use your training (and you’re not a healthcare professional), your adrenaline pumps so much that you can shake for awhile after. I shook so much I couldn’t even hold my dang ICEE! Driving home that day, as I thought about that man and my reaction, I vowed to myself that I would always renew my CPR certification whether I worked in healthcare or not. I could not even imagine how I would have felt if I had not been trained and that whole scenario played out. Would I have just stood there, helpless?
That was a physical crisis. Now what about a mental health crisis? 1 in 5 adults in the US will experience a mental illness. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of a group of 5 people in your life, and realize that that 1 of those people will be or could be living with a mental illness…or it could be you. What would you do if that person reached out to you for help? Would you know what to do? If you were trained as a Mental Health First Aider, you would recall the acronym ALGEE and recognize what you need to do to get that person help. No, I’m not talking about the slimy green crap floating on the lake! ALGEE not ALGAE. Much like CPR, ALGEE is an acronym for steps a layperson can take to help someone in a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid teaches these steps to anyone who wants to learn. I became an instructor for Youth and Adult MHFA in 2019.