Mental health works in process

Alexandra Moore

Senior Jessica Morris encourages perseverance and hope

When she began college, Jessica Morris also began to see a counselor.

Having struggled with both her own and her family members’ mental health her whole life, the inevitable changes and stress that accompany college life hindered Morris’ ability to manage her depression.

Advocating for the benefits of counseling and other forms of mental health care, Morris is a senior psychology major who hopes to become a counselor herself someday.

“Going to counseling really changed my life,” Morris said.

Spending two years consistently attending counseling sessions, Morris worked with her counselor to identify problematic patterns of thinking and equip herself with tools to help her get past them.

While Morris’ own depression now has less power over her life, she stresses the fact that managing mental illness and pursuing mental health is a long term commitment.

“It’s not like mental health is something you get to work on once and then not work on for the rest of your life,” Morris said.

Instead, Morris explained how she feels the need to be conscious of ensuring her own mental well-being everyday, and chooses to do so — something she encourages anyone who is struggling with mental illness to do.

Morris gives this advice even to those who do not live with a mental illness, asserting that all individuals should prioritize their mental health and consider counseling for things like stress management.

Recalling her own personal experience, however, Morris explained that this process is not easy, especially the process of simply getting started.

“It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of bravery to make that [first] step,” Morris said, regarding making the decision to see a counselor.

Morris emphasized that the often long and tedious journey toward recovery is worth the healing and peace that it rewards.

“If it doesn’t work out right away, keep trying even though sometimes when you’re struggling with mental illness your whole life feels like trying. But it’s worth it,” Morris said.

This is the message that Morris feels called to share with others professionally.

Morris plans on sharing the knowledge and experience she has acquired through school and life.

Expecting to further her education and become certified in counseling, Morris is excited to gain a deeper understanding of mental health through experiential learning.

For now, however, Morris has become aware of how her own experiences can inform how she will approach helping her future clients.

Morris’ philosophy for herself is that of perseverance and hope and she aims to encourage others to assume this same attitude.

“I think as a counselor, I feel confident to work to hold hope for people when they don’t see it themselves,” Morris said.

Since Morris is young, however, she sees herself as still in the process of development herself.

This emphasis on growth and giving oneself grace is an important component of Morris’ view of mental health.

Morris sees the societal expectation for people, especially young people, to easily achieve a universal definition of well-being as being counterproductive to mental health.

“To understand [mental health] as something that you’re growing in and learning about for your whole life, rather than something that you should have figured out right now, is a good way to think about it.”