For more than 70 years, Mental Health Awareness Month has been recognized during the month of May. The purpose is to raise awareness for how mental health is essential to overall health. With nearly one-in-five Americans living with a mental health condition according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the reality is that someone you know—or even yourself—could be struggling. The good news is one of the best ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is to talk about it.

Vaughn College is starting the conversation by exploring some of the mental health conditions students are facing today, as well as the ways to overcome them. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is mental health?

It’s not always about what you can see, but what you can’t see. Unlike physical health—which is mostly visible on the outside—mental health is an inner process that involves how we think, feel and process situations. How you handle a stressful situation or relate to others, for example, can determine the state of your mental health. If you’ve been struggling but are hesitating about getting help for fear of being judged, now is the time to release that fear and seek counseling. Not sure if what you’re feeling is part of mental health? Let’s discuss.

Mental health conditions

Most of us have experienced one or more challenging times in our lives and those times can be overwhelming, leaving our mental health to suffer. Millions of Americans experience mental health conditions. Some conditions are more prevalent among college students due to the stress of studying, juggling work and extracurriculars, maintaining relationships, etc. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sleeping issues and disorders
  • Self-injury

If you’ve been experiencing any of these conditions, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Internalizing and ignoring any of these conditions can lead you to feeling isolated, alone and with nowhere to turn. It is important to achieve mental wellness by finding a healthy balance between your studies, job, family and extracurriculars, while seeking the appropriate support. To learn about the wellness programs and activities offered at Vaughn, read our blog: “Stress Awareness Month: How Vaughn Helps You Find Your Balance.”

Some facts about anxiety disorder

  • Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America
  • In many cases, anxiety disorders are treatable
  • Only about 36 percent of affected people choose to get help
  • Exercise is a proven way to help lessen the effects of anxiety disorders

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

There’s no denying the pandemic has impacted our mental well-being. And for college students, this impact has complicated life even further. Remote learning has caused students to be much less social, more sedentary and more complacent. Even with the latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions, students are still feeling the emotional impacts of the pandemic. Some of these include:

  • Relationships—Social distancing may have put a strain on relationships with friends and partners.
  • Remote learning—Learning via Zoom can cause students to feel isolated, alone, and complacent.
  • Loss of loved ones—Complications from COVID-19 may have taken the lives of loved ones which takes a long-term toll on mental health.

Healthy ways to improve your mental health

First, let’s start by saying that self-care isn’t selfish. Good mental health begins with being honest with yourself, your feelings and emotions. Here are some healthy ways to improve or maintain good mental health:

  • Self-check-ins—Regular self-check-ins are important steps for reflecting on how you’re feeling and addressing anything that might be upsetting you. The goal here is to not ignore any issues but to work through them or seek help if needed.
  • Schedule some “me” time—Life can get busy and overwhelming with studying, work and other responsibilities. Make time to do things that bring you peace and joy, even if it means setting boundaries with others. Remember it’s ok to say “no” sometimes. Whether it’s meeting up with friends, going on a nature walk or even packing a picnic lunch in the park, taking a break from the books is a great way to nurture your mental health.
  • Check-in on loved ones—Friends and family may be struggling with their own mental health. A simple phone call or visit can make all the difference to helping them feel loved and encouraged. (And it may help you, too!)
  • Form a study group or get a study buddy—Studying with friends is always better than studying alone. Even if you prefer to study alone, checking your knowledge with your peers can never hurt.
  • Participate in on-campus happenings, events and clubs—Doing things outside of your normal comfort zone and meeting other students or alumni with similar interests will invigorate your soul and help you to feel a part of something larger. Check out Vaughn’s events calendar for students – there’s always something fun going on!

If you need someone to talk to or want more information on staying mentally healthy, we encourage you to make an appointment at Vaughn’s office of counseling and wellness. Vaughn is committed to helping you overcome any challenges and guide you towards graduating and obtaining your dream career.  Need help academically? Stop by Vaughn’s Academic Success Center – it’s always open to provide you with the one-on-one support you need to succeed in your classes.

Other helpful mental health resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Anxiety & Depression Association of America

National Suicide Prevention Hotline—(800-273-TALK) or dial 988 (available in all states on July 16, 2022)

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time when our country celebrates this select group of individuals for their contributions to the history, culture and achievements in the United States.

This month, Vaugh College invites you to join this celebration as we recognize four AAPI trailblazers for their extraordinary accomplishments in the fields of engineering and technology, management and aviation.

Josephine Santiago-Bond: NASA Systems Engineer

Josephine Santiago-Bond
Photo Credit: Women of NASA Portraits. Josephine Santiago-Bond.

Growing up in the Philippines, Josephine Santiago-Bond had a passion for engineering but never dreamed she would have a career at NASA, let alone in the position of systems engineer. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from the University of the Philippines, she ventured to the United States, where she found her first engineering job designing sports products. It wasn’t until she went on to earn her master’s degree in electrical engineering at South Dakota State University, however, that her life took an unexpected turn. She landed an internship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and, as they say, “the rest is history.” In 2004, she began her career at NASA by contributing to exciting projects that included space shuttle ground system operations, the Constellation subsystems design and even several lunar missions. During her time at NASA, her career evolved from electronics engineer to that of systems engineer. Today, she leads a team of engineers as the chief of the advanced engineering development branch. As a woman of Pacific Islander descent, she recognizes herself as a minority in the field but says it’s a blessing that she can work for NASA, an organization that values inclusion.

Jerry Yang: Co-Founder and CEO of Yahoo!

Jerry Yang
Photo credit: Wikipedia

As one of America’s wealthiest men, Jerry Yang’s story began as a 10-year-old boy from Taiwan who moved to the United States knowing only one English word—“shoe.” After his father died, Yang moved to San Jose, California with his mother and brother. Determined—even at a young age—Yang learned the English language in only three years and graduated high school at the top of his class. He attended Stanford University—working throughout his school years to support himself—where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only four years. While pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering, he and a classmate, David Filo, joined forces to create a directory of websites that were organized by a hierarchy rather than a searchable list. In 1995, this venture became Yahoo! (“Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”). Yang dropped out of the PhD program as Yahoo became an overnight success. From 2007-2009, he served as the company’s CEO—when at one point in time, Yahoo! was worth a whopping $130 billion. In 2012, Yang left the company and went on to form AME Cloud Ventures, a company that invests in entrepreneurs of technology-heavy startup companies. Yang’s contributions to the Internet as we know it today places him as one of the most influential tech entrepreneurs to transform all of Silicon Valley. He and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, live in Los Altos Hills, California. In 2007, the couple pledged $75 million to their alma mater—Stanford University—to build the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2). Ten years later, they generously pledged $25 million to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the highest donation in the museum’s history.

Reshma Saujani: Founder of Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani
Photo credit: Wikipedia; Creator: Adrian Kinloch

Born in Illinois to parents of Gujarati Indian descent, Reshma Saujani is an attorney, education activist and politician who first made a name for herself in 2010 as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. While campaigning, she visited local schools and discovered a gender gap in the field of technology. In response to her passion for empowering women and fighting for women’s rights, she founded Girls Who Code, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit organizations. To date, the organization has taught 300,000 girls through in-person computer science education programming. Globally, the numbers are even more impressive, having reached 500 million people through Saujani’s award-winning campaigns and New York Times-bestselling book series, “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World.”  Saujani has authored other influential books that include “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line,” the international best seller “Brave, Not Perfect,” and she’s also captured national attention with her TED Talk, which has reached over five million viewers around the world. Saujani earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.

Colonel Ellison Onizuka: First Asian Astronaut in Space

Photo credit: NASA

Born in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii, Colonel Ellison Onizuka made history as the first Asian astronaut and the first of Japanese origin to reach space. With dreams of someday going higher than the birds and reaching the stars, Onizuka’s nights of star gazing by the Pacific Ocean came to fruition. After graduating with honors from Kealakekua, Kona High School in 1964, he attended the University of Colorado, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering. In 1970, Onizuka joined the United States Air Force, where he served as a flight test engineer and test pilot at McClellan Air Force Base. Four years later, he attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and became a squadron flight test engineer at the USAF Test Pilot School. In 1978, Onizuka was selected among 8,000 applicants to be one of 35 astronauts—and the first Japanese American—for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. On January 24, 1985, he was aboard the space shuttle Discovery—America’s first classified manned military space flight—as a mission specialist, making him the first Asian astronaut to enter space. That same year, Onizuka, along with six other crew members, were chosen for the Challenger Flight 51-L. Tragically, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded only 73 seconds after liftoff, ending the lives of all aboard. Onizuka left us with inspiring words to live by: “Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. Make your life count—and the world will be a better place because you tried.”

As an institution steeped in diversity, Vaughn College welcomes students from all walks of life. If you’re looking to earn your degree at a college that will make you feel accepted, safe and empowered, look no further than Vaughn. We offer futureproof degree programs in engineering and technology, management and aviation. Apply today!