Ask About It
Q&A with Hodan Farah
Hodan Farah is a Graduate Assistant in UNO's Department of Counseling.
Q: Do you think mental health is talked about enough? Yes, no? Why, why not?
I believe mental health is not talked about enough. It is something that is still stigmatized and a topic of area that a lot of people are not familiar with. A lot of education needs to take place in order for it to reach the masses as to what mental health practitioners do, what mental health is really about, and why people should care about mental health.
I come from a perspective of two different worlds. One world which is the American perspective aims to understand what mental health means to you and to understand what you can do about it and how you can get help, in general. And then I come from another world, where mental health is stigmatized to the core. Some people believe that if you get assistance or need help, or looking for help, or have a very progressive mental illness like bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, that you are considered as crazy and labeled as such, and they try to beat you out of it with a stick. It’s kind of the story, where I’m from, specifically Somalia in Africa.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of normalizing mental health and making it a personable part of your whole entire holistic health. Meaning that you’re taking into perspective, not just your mind and your mental health, but also how that works throughout the rest of your body. So it’s a health component, a mental component, and spiritual. Total wellness is what we’re looking for.
Q: In your current position, do you find it difficult to have an open conversation about mental health with your colleagues? Why, why not?
In my current position as a Graduate Assistant for the Department of Counseling, it’s very easy to talk about mental health because we breathe it, live it, eat it, and digest it. But on the same token, the most important thing that we lack in terms of when we have these conversations amongst ourselves is the topic of self-care.
We’re going into the helping hand profession, and we are grunting it out day in and day out, helping people, but we are not taking care of ourselves. So it’s important to ask, what’re you doing to take care of yourself so you can take care of your clients? How do you distress your own stressors? How do you check yourself when you’re out of bounds? Stuff like that we don’t really talk about. We’re our hardest critics, and it’s hard to actually put yourself first when you’re in rescue mode for everybody else.