Students engage in discussion of mental health through panel


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De Anza and Foothill College addressed mental health in communities of color in a mental health panel on May 17.

Panelist Raven Hayes, a 20-year-old psychology major at Foothill, said microaggressions during her hospital internship damaged her mental wellbeing.

“There are a lot of microaggressions and racism that’s in the medical field, and I cannot have this happening to a younger Black girl, who like me is excited about the future,” Hayes said. “What if I would’ve taken that to heart and decided to just quit?”

During her internship, Hayes said a doctor asked her repeatedly what part of Africa she was from, despite Hayes’ assertions that she was American.

“I have a lot of younger cousins and younger siblings,” Hayes said. “I need them to know that I’m not going to give up and they don’t need to give up.”

Panelist Sunnie Chen, 22, public policy major and member of the Active Minds club at De Anza, said that even though her mental health has improved over time, she was never given the correct accomodations for her struggles.

“In the past, I did struggle very severely with mental health issues,” Chen said. “I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what I went through.”

Hayes added that culture can also limit mental health, as she was told not to show emotion growing up.
“There’s a lot of people of color that it’s still new for us (to be) accepting mental health and saying openly you’re depressed or you have anxiety,” Hayes said. “It’s still fairly new in a lot of communities.”

Josh Contreras, 19, English and kinesiology major at Foothill, said he felt understood as he heard the panelists’ experiences.

“I definitely related to a lot of what the panelists were saying, especially Raven towards the end about culture,” Contreras said. “Like me being Mexican-American and I am a guy, there’s a lot of stigma around (mental health).”

When he was younger, Josh said his parents would tell him he was not a girl when he cried.

“When I was a kid and even as I grew older, it was so hard for me to emotionally be myself,” Contreras said. “So that was one thing that really stuck to me from the event.”

Students struggling with mental health can find resources here.