Time is Up for Being Silent About Mental Health

Time is Up for Being Silent About Mental Health

In 2019 we had the good fortune to meet Katelyn Brown, an amazing young woman who is passionate about children’s mental health. Katelyn is this year’s reigning Miss Presley Heights 2020, and was a top-ten finalist in the Miss Mississippi pageant last year. We decided to partner together, and this video is a result of that partnership. We appreciate Katelyn doing this guest blog in honor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. – Families as Allies

Katelyn Brown - Mask with Slogan - Families as AlliesIn the same way that Oprah Winfrey referred to the MeToo Movement in her Golden Globes speech, “Time is up,” the time is up for being silent about mental health and it is time to speak up and speak out, especially throughout the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month.

At the age of ten, I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder after the death of my grandfather. For twelve years I struggled with panic attacks, sometimes at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. Even now I wake every morning, no matter how good or bad the day, with anxiety and nervousness that I have only learned to control by my faith. I am thankful to say that I have overcome more obstacles than anyone could imagine. I can now stand in front of thousands of people and speak publicly about my daily journey, and I have been able to push aside the fears that would totally defeat me.

Martin Luther King once said, “Every generation is beckoned anew.” So it is that I find myself as an advocate for coping with the Coronavirus and its impact on mental health.  From Washington State to the Empire State, we struggle with the various editions of “shelter in place” orders, under which we now seek survival.

I listened intently to the daily press briefing by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as he announced the mental health help line (800-985-5990), and how important it is to pay attention to our mental health during this crisis. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves presented the picture of calm for our state on a recent stint on national television. We will survive this but must plan, organize and take into account the inability of some of us to weather the storm. As Cuomo says of the Color of COVID, “We must reopen, but we must reimagine.” I agree.

I have rendered a year of service as the recipient of Families as Allies’ Helen R. Johnson Memorial Award for Valuing Every Child and Family. I am grateful for the public platform this designation affords me to help our state and nation.

Katelyn Brown at YMCA - Families as AlliesIn an effort to do my part to help us cope, I have been busy as your ambassador.  I have taken donuts to our Healthcare Heroes on the front lines. I read stories at the local YMCA to as part of a babysitting venture for the children of healthcare workers still on the front lines.

I have provided online messaging for those deemed essential workers who cannot afford to or have no say so in whether or not they get to stay home during these perilous times. I still hold as my mantra, “It is OK to not be OK.” OK to cry. OK to grieve. OK to just sit and think, as opposed to resolving to solve the problems of the world, repaint your house and home-school your kids all in one fell swoop. Do what you can to focus on those things that you can change.

During our recent Mental Health Awareness Day at the Mississippi Capitol, I shared a simple recipe for staying sound and surviving the challenges of COVID-19. My personal healthcare hero, who doubles as my mom, discovered these tips, originally published by Nurse.org:

  1. Take a break from COVID-19 by not watching the news or social media.
  2. Video chat with friends and family.
  3. Get outdoors. Physical activity helps with anxiety and depression.

I am a proud Petal Wal-Mart employee. In between my opportunities to work as a mental health awareness advocate, I stock shelves to keep you supplied with food and that ever-elusive toilet tissue! Whether you are Blue Ivy (Beyonce and Jay Z’s daughter) demonstrating proper hand-washing technique on social media, or Mississippi’s Musical Ambassador Vasti Jackson composing a tribute song “Healing Angel” for local healthcare heroes, or filmmaker Tyler Perry paying for groceries for senior citizens or just plain old Katelyn Brown, one Mississippian doing her part, know that it is OK not to not be OK. We will survive. #staysafestaysound

Katelyn Brown is a native of Richton, a medical laboratory sciences student at Pearl River Community College, and will represent the Presley Heights Community of Tupelo in the Miss Mississippi Competition in Vicksburg this July. (This blog post was adapted from a press release submitted by Katelyn Brown.)

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