In our first few weeks of classes, we have learned a lot. With the Keyes’ Model of Mental Health, we learned that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing. We also learned that it is possible to be both mentally ill and flourishing, which I personally found interesting. I did not know there was a difference between being mentally ill and being mentally unhealthy. It turns out that being mentally ill is actually a disease and an imbalance of your brain, whereas being mentally unhealthy is just a way of being–and you can also cure being mentally unhealthy with exercises such as yoga, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. I thought that was very interesting.
With this knowledge we then learned about the genetic influences of behavior in the next week with Danielle Dick. In this lesson, we learned the difference between the effects of nurture vs. nature and came to the conclusion that behavior was affected by both nurture AND nature. We found that happiness, depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, etc. all come from a combination of both your genes/genetic predisposition and the environment you live in. I found it interesting and realized in this class that you can be “disposed” toward something and change the likelihood that it will actually happen through environmental changes. That part makes me feel happy that there is a chance for people who have the genes for mental illness can change their outcome of their life through their environment.
That brings me to what I found the most interesting subject we’ve learned throughout these weeks, and that is the mental illness section. In today’s world, I have heard a lot about depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. I have friends and family who have it, and I have lost quite a few people I am close to due to depression and mood disorders. However, I have never experienced these mental illnesses myself, so it has always been confusing to me. I have never understood why people with depression and anxiety are crippled sometimes, and I hate to admit it, but in the past I have been one of those people that thinks “why can’t they just be happy?”. But this section has made me realize that mental illness is not always something you can snap out of. I thought it was interesting to hear about the forms of treatment there are for these illnesses and realized there’s much more than medication to treat these things, like therapy and counseling and ketamine infusion. This section definitely changed the way I think about mental illness now.
Positive psychology was a very cool topic to learn about. I thought the concept of PERMA was intriguing and a organized way to put your positive thoughts together. The P in PERMA stands for positive emotion, the E for engagement, R for relationships, M for meaning, and A for accomplishment. I think that having all of these ideals at hand and using them in your everyday life is a great way to jump start positive thinking.
The section of cultivating our strengths I found to be a great interactive way to reinforce confidence and moral in the class. I thought it was interesting in the way that Professor Walsh said she realized that social work was a “strengths-centered field”, because that;’s what I am realizing about my field (Public Relations)– I am realizing that in addition to being able to sell myself and recognizing my own strengths, I MUST realize my clients strengths and sell those as well. It was kind of a “mind-blown” moment when I realized this. I also think the activity we did on Friday’s class helped us to connect with other classmates in the room and that was super fun and a great way to get to know our classmates and find similarities with people we wouldn’t originally think we would have similarities between.