Discussing Mental Health with Family and Friends

April 17, 2021

Licensed marriage and family therapist and counselor for the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services counselor Vanessa Cornejo led the fourth presentation in the Planned Acts of Kindness series, held on Thursday, April 8, at lunch. Cornejo’s presentation focused on acknowledging changes in loss, grief and mental health during the pandemic, as well as how to destigmatize mental health discussions within family situations.

While recognizing it will be an adjustment, Cornejo advises individuals to return to school when the opportunity arises, citing its great mental health benefits and role in facilitating the transition back to normal life. Key ways to make the transition back to school less stressful are embracing awkwardness both in verbal and physical communication, being aware of the differences in the first-day-of-school “vibe” and starting conversations with peers to open up the atmosphere.

Cornejo also emphasized the importance of being aware of changes in mental health and surrounding oneself with positive, hopeful individuals. When peers are facing challenges and communicate them with others, Cornejo finds that we are often too quick to give advice. Instead, she recommends being an open ear, reserving judgement and expanding our listening skills, as challenges impact everyone differently. We also need to be careful with what we say to make sure we don’t have an accidental negative outcome.

Guardians might not always be able to understand the impact of mental health issues on their children’s lives. Cornejo advises students to have an open and educational conversation with their guardians on what mental health is to combat stigma and ensure that they take mental health issues seriously. 

Cornejo provided resources for students which can be found here: Mental Health Resources For Parents of Adolescents and Young Adults, Coping in Hard Times and Alcohol and Substance Misuse.

The final talk in the series led by psychotherapist Sharon Martin is scheduled for Thursday, April 29. This upcoming presentation will focus on stress management and self-care. To sign up, visit this link.

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