Presenting our winner for the 2021 LouCouPsych Scholarship, Megan Boyd, a senior at Falls Church High School, who will be going to James Madison University in the fall to study Kinesiology with plans of pursuing a career in physical therapy! I screwed up with the recording (oops), so sadly missed out on her audio, but was able to get the reaction on video to the award! Thank you to all the donors as well who made this possible! Please congratulate Megan on this award and wish her all the best in her future endeavors and pursuits!
Megan's essay on mental health awareness below: "Mental health awareness in today's society couldn’t be more important. The past year has been crazy, an intense election and a global pandemic, just to name a few, and there is no doubt of the mental health toll it's caused so many people. We as a society have come a long way regarding mental health awareness, but breaking the stigma of reaching out for help is something we all could work on.
At the beginning of the 2019 school year, my leadership class decided to try to end the stigma surrounding suicide for suicide prevention month, and I took on the task of making a video regarding it. I wanted to make something that would really show how many people struggle with suicidial thoughts and suicide all together, so I started by asking a few people if the would share the importance to them of breaking the stigma. It really surprised me how many people were willing and volunteered to share their stories with me and the school. Some of my favorite teachers and classmates were sharing stories about how they had attempted suicide, or how the had been affected by their own family and friends committing suicide. So, after the video was done and put together, it completely opened my eyes to see so many people in my high school share their own stories on how they have struggled with suicidal thought and actions, and the effects of other peoples suicide. It made me think of how many people we would never imagine to be mentally ill suffer these things.
I got a call in February 2020 that one of my closest family friends had committed suicide. He was someone I had always seen as a funny, happy, kind person, and had taken his own life. I couldn’t help but think how many other people suffer in silence, and specifically men. Mental health is especially stigmatized with men, and lots of them see seeking help or sharing emotion as a sign of weakness. Many men have said they experienced guilt and shame for asking for help, which all comes back to toxic masculinity. Us as a society has to do better with the stigma of asking for help. We could all do better by educating kids from the beginning of elementary school on not being afraid to reach out.
In more recent events, quarantine had a lot of people who weren't able to leave their houses and have distractions, stuck in potentially toxic households. Many people suffered from anxiety from covid numbers rising. The mental health effects from covid were very damaging to a huge amount of people. However, the way many schools went out of their way to make this year as easy as possible with grading and limiting assignments really helped, and I believe that the overall awareness of mental health during the pandemic completely helped some people get through the tough time. The increased awareness of mental health is getting so much better, and if it keeps getting better, even more people will be positively impacted.
Mental health awareness in any society is important, but over the past year, I have noticed that it is extremely important with everything that has gone on. In a society where mental illnesses affect 13% of children, 19% of adults, and 46% of teenagers, and where only 50% of those people will get help, we must do better to have mental health awareness. It is such a huge amount of the population, but it is still so stigmatized. Mental health awareness in today’s society is super important, and it will save lives by continuing to break the stigma."