I currently live with anxiety and depression. I have lived with mental health concerns for over ten years, and I am still ok. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I would not have been able to publicly admit the first line of this article because of feelings of embarrassment and shame. However, by acknowledging my mental health concerns, I know that I am challenging stereotypes as a scholar-practitioner and saving a group of peers, friends, and family by just saying my truth.
As an undergrad, I never visited the counseling and psychological services office at my university. In fact, I did not know what counseling and psychological services were. I was raised in a small tenement apartment in New York City by Spanish-speaking parents who never knew the importance of mental health. Mamí (mom) and Papí (dad) did their best to educate my siblings and me. Still, discussions about our feelings or vulnerabilities were tucked away, like the foldable TV tables that we ate dinner on every night. Thus, without knowing, they led with a deficiency about the importance of mental health. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and suffering in silence simply became the norm.