Thursday, November 30, 2023

Ole Miss Student Pushes for Mental Health Awareness

Caroline Helms / Journalism Student

Alex Bush, a sophomore at Ole Miss, has been a major advocate for mental health awareness throughout the past four years.

Her mission began after her father’s death by suicide in October 2017.

“There’s a long family history on my dad’s side in particular. I’ve lost my dad, my great-grandma, my great-, great-grandfather on my dad’s side by suicide, and there have been tons of cases of addiction, and my mom’s mom died by suicide as well,” Bush said.

Bush explained the importance of just listening, because as simple as it is, it helps people more than they realize.

“We have no idea what people are going through. When you walk through your day people put on a mask,” Bush said. “People don’t realize what we’re going through until you sit down and ask and listen, so I think it’s important to remember that we all have stuff going on, everyone is fighting through their own battles,” Bush said.

Along with her family’s history, Bush has had several friends commit suicide in the past several years. Bush described many of these individuals as popular, outgoing and as having a great family life. However, Bush emphasized the point that many times people hide how they’re feeling.

“Unfortunately, I have seen many different types of people, you know, and I think that’s something important for everyone to remember, is that mental illness and addiction, they don’t have a face,” Bush said. “It affects any type of person, any age, gender, race, religion, whatever it is any other differentiating factor. It affects everyone.”

Dr. Danielle Maack, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi also weighed in on the importance of mental health awareness.

“If we focus more on student mental health and the resources and services available, we’re going to have students who thrive,” Maack said.

Like Bush, Maack highlighted the fact that it is important for people to share their stories regarding mental illness because it is much more common than one may think.

“Anecdotes work better,” Maack said.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. You can reach Bush on Instagram or Maack through Delta Autumn Consulting.