Welcome to the Texas A&M University Active Minds blog site. These entries will be written by me, Mack Paulson, and they will be a mixture of general mental health discussion, personal accounts, and what our chapter is looking to accomplish in 2017.

I joined the Active Minds Chapter here at Texas A&M University after going through some difficult bouts of anxiety and depression. I didn’t realize I was dealing with some of the symptoms at other points in my life, and then it finally came up again and wasn’t quick to go away.

I decided that I wasn’t going to let these mental health symptoms take over my life. I never knew how people truly felt when they were depressed until the last few months but I’m glad I know now because I believe I can help those people. I don’t believe that I have onset depression, but I have dealt with some of the symptoms of it. I see these symptoms as temporary but there is no timetable for these things. Some people get over it, and some people live with it throughout their entire life. Both of those outcomes are OK. I did start to take medication for both anxiety and depression, and my life has become more balanced since then. Even though there are still trying times, I know that the only option is to push forward. I have a wonderful family and some amazing friends that have been there for me to talk to and I am constantly reminded that I am not alone in this journey. What I didn’t know before was how many of my family and friends, some that I am very close to, have gone/or are going through the same types of symptoms. So with that information and knowing that they have continued to move on and be happy, I know that things will continue to get better and my smile will continue to widen. It has become my mission to turn this whole situation into a positive. I will serve to make other people’s lives better and provide the help and encouragement that they need along the way.

Our A&M Chapter of Active Minds is still new. The topic of mental health in American society has been stigmatized and has always been a very sensitive issue to talk about openly. What we do at TAMU is create an environment where it is okay for people to express themselves and make them feel safe and comfortable talking about sensitive issues. Any type of mental health illness is welcome! :) Even if you aren’t struggling in your own life, there are people in your own circles who are struggling with mental health. By learning more and more about what to say, being open to conversation, and spreading awareness, you are contributing to an environment that makes it better for everyone. De-stigmatizing mental health issues makes people feel as if they can talk about their struggles. College students 18–25 are the most common recipients of these types of symptoms, so these awareness strategies that we are implementing need to have a broad reach across Texas A&M and our communities in College Station and Bryan. We have the opportunity to be the leaders of progress and change here.

Lastly, in my communication class “New Media/ Civil Society”, we read a study by Markus Prior, and he stressed that there is a lack of engagement and involvement in the political world, especially from our younger citizens. Apathy and distancing makes it very easy to get away from the realm of government. My response to that is this: Let’s turn his idea on it’s head and make the topic: Mental Health. I think people really start to care about issues only when it starts to become apparent in their own life. There was a while where I didn’t want to approach the topic of mental health because it scared me and so I was trying to avoid things that I saw online that dealt with psychology. Then, knowing I wasn’t going to be stuck in that rut forever, I decided to join Active Minds and help change my community. I took mental health by the arms instead of being apathetic to it.

We had a great turnout at our first meeting last week. We really enjoyed seeing everyone come and support a really awesome cause.

Pictured from left to right: Me, Rachel, Anna, Danielle. Current Spring 2017 Officers.
#ChangeTheConversation Active Minds TAMU

Thanks for reading this. I hope that some of you will come to our next meeting in March! Know this: You are not alone and everything will get better!

One last note: My good friend Joe and I talked a couple weeks ago about mental struggles and coping methods, and he told me: “Always look for the next right thing to do.” Whatever you are going through, look to keep making the world a better place, whether it be a small or big thing.

Keep pushing forward.

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