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Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world (Nelson Mandela). A timely statement for today`s world from a timeless man. With growing volatility around the globe, we all seem to be looking for a catalyst. Something to create change and bring a little more light into our own personal lives, and more importantly, the world. Throughout my life my mission has been to find an impactful way to help others; however, something has always left me feeling a calling to do more. After years of contemplation, I`ve come to the personal conclusion that some of our deepest problems lie in the inability to cultivate healthy relationships, control emotion, and navigate through life`s difficult feelings and circumstances. Many factors can come into play with learning and developing these skills; however, for sufferers of mental illness or abuse some of these skills may seem out of reach.

In America, 1 in 5 adults suffer from mental illness according to data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (NAMI). The latest 2015 Child Maltreatment Report from The Children`s Bureau was published in January 2017. The report shows an increase in child abuse referrals from 3.6 million to 4 million. The number of children involved subsequently increased to 7.2 million from 6.6 million (SPCC). What does a generation look like when 7.2 million of them have reportedly been abused or neglected? In addition to mental disorders and abuse, emotional hardships as simple as loneliness have been proven to be as hazardous to your longterm physical health as smoking cigarettes (Winch 39). Unfortunately, mental health continues to carry a stigma in this country. What would our society look like, and how would it be different if mental health were treated as equal in importance as our physical health? How can we make a change?

Many of us spend decades preparing for our careers. How many years do we spend learning how to be a good partner or friend? We would all agree that family and relationships are just as important as a career. So, why do we spend so little time learning the skills required to manage healthy relationships? The road to change lies in education. With my degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I hope to offer mental health prevention classes to my community such as: Is My Relationship Healthy?, Emotional First-Aid, and more. In an age where the world seems to be glued to a screen, desensitized and socially crippled, emotional connection is so important. I think if people are given the opportunity to learn about mental health in a group setting, they will feel less shame and more pride in enriching their lives. If mental health education and prevention were able to be taught on a wide scale, I believe we would see less racism and more empathy, less bullying and more kindness, less loneliness and more happiness and connection.

While I would love to see these changes happen, I am only one person. It is up to all of us to demand more of our education systems. Though the saying is cliche, we must be the change we want to see in the world. It`s so easy to carry on in our day to day routines only being concerned with ourselves and our loved ones. The world requires more of us than that. I hope to inspire myself and those around me to give sacrificially. If we want change, we can`t sit around wait for it. We can`t wait for a politician to make it happen. We have to create change ourselves.

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