Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. the Department of Social Work held a Mental Health Awareness Virtual Presentation on Zoom.
The presentation was hosted by Master of Social Work students Alivia Thomas, Debra McCauley and Lashannon Turner.
The presentation opened by discussing mental health and the stigma and effects surrounding it.
Three special guests were present to speak about their careers and knowledge on mental health: Lashawn Pittman, Shameeka Gray and Ariel Fortson.
Pittman, a therapist at Greenleaf, spoke on the warning signs and triggers of mental health and the importance of support systems.
In response to an attendee questioning the importance of the community knowing about mental health, Pittman said that people used to brush it off, but people should know that it is okay.
Pittman assured that struggling with mental health doesn’t mean that someone isn’t normal.
“Every single individual deals with some sort of mental health; some are just better at hiding it,” Pittman said.
Gray, a family nurse practitioner and the second speaker, spoke about how there used to be so much stigma that people would avoid treatment.
She diagnoses treatments for mental health and said that it’s important to disclose all the medication you take to your doctor. She also stressed the importance of always getting your yearly checkup to make sure there aren’t other medical problems.
Gray’s goal is to always have an open dialogue with her patients by discussing her own journey with mental health to normalize mental health and therapy.
“It’s important that you advocate for yourself because the most important person in your care circle is you,” Gray said.
She mentioned that a lot of people don’t know when it’s right to seek help.
“If it’s important to you and affects your day and life then it is important to me,” she said.
Fortson, a first year M.S.W. student and final speaker, spoke on emotion.
“Everyone shows emotions differently and might not even show their true emotions to their own self,” Fortson said.
The presentation ended with tips on how to take care of yourself and your mental health and the resources available around Valdosta for people who wish to speak with someone.
“Please reach out for help,” Pittman said.
Written by Angel Davis, staff writer. Photos courtesy of VSU Dept. of Social Work.