The journey to choosing my current major has certainly not been easy, and I haven’t even begun to think about a career path. When I first started at the University of Michigan, I knew that my passions lie in the health field–I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives, but also wanted to work towards making healthcare much more affordable and accessible to communities that face significant disparities.
My initial thoughts were that I should follow the typical pre-med route, however I then found a new path that I had never heard about; public health. It’s more than treating patients, writing prescriptions, and working in hospitals. It’s focused on populations, and digging deep into how health impacts certain groups in certain ways, and prioritizes finding ways to close the gap on these inequities. When taking an intro class during my sophomore year, I knew that this was the major that was right for me, and would give me everything I want and more!
Public Health = Mental Health + More
When we think of health, one usually only scratches the surface on what really is health, and what affects it on a day to day basis–Mental Health being one of those big aspects. This class has provided me with an outlook on health in a way I’ve never thought about. As young adults, we are in a transitioning phase that is probably one of the most difficult to get through. Leaving childhood, entering college and the rest of our lives, with no sense of direction whatsoever. I knew that this transition would be hard for me, but not this hard. There were definitely times where I’ve felt overwhelmed, wanted to give up, and the worst feeling of all–loneliness. But at the same time, this has been a period of much needed growth for myself. I’ve understood the importance of mental health, began to incorporate self-care into my everyday life, and most importantly, discovered a newfound love for myself that I needed. Ultimately, these reasons and many more, lead me to picking Public Mental Health for my session 1 course!
What Have I Learned?
We started the class off by talking about research methods, and the basics on how studies are conducted, the types of errors, and how the results allow researchers to create change. Public Health is a forever evolving field, and each and every day we are learning more and more about it. Research needs to be done with real people to gauge where we’re currently at, and what the next steps are. We’re currently working on a research poster in groups based on a mental health related topic we’re passionate about (ours being the mental health of minority groups), and will be presenting them this week!
We then moved onto bigger concepts of mental health–defining what it is, how it develops over time, as well as common mental disorders and their impacts on different groups. We also talked about the stigmatization of mental health, which is a big thing that has held people back in terms of seeking help and how they treat others. The topic that peaked my interest and passion the most however, was talking about the mental health differences across different cultures, in terms of what mental health actually means, and how treatment methods and perception of mental health is not at the same in all parts of the world.
Guest Speakers + Field Studies
The guest speaker who came to talk to our class was a psychiatrist at a transcultural health center in Stockholm. He provided an outlook on mental health and healthcare as a whole that no one often talks about, and how in order to address cultural differences in healthcare, we as future workers in health, as well as individuals of society, need to work towards being more culturally competent in our everyday lives, and I absolutely loved learning from him.
Our first field visit was to one of the psychiatric hospitals! I certainly had different expectations, but once getting there, it really seemed as though patient care and trust is always put first. Hearing the psychiatrists talking about their experiences that led them to this path was really inspiring and moved me, and it really seemed as though they were truly passionate about their work and helping people each and every day.
We also visited a medical university, where we had some firsthand experience in data entry systems, and were provided a very interactive space to pull out useful information from data in order to make conclusions that a researcher would do in their line of work.
Professors + Friends
I was definitely worried coming into a class with a group of students that I didn’t know, and I thought it would be hard to make friends. However since day one, this group of people have been like a family to me and it’s been such a fun few weeks! Waking up at 7 am to make it to class by 9 is definitely not an easy task, but if you have friends to go on the journey together with, it makes it much more bearable. I really do feel like I’m a regular college class, and time is flying by way too fast, but I know I’ve certainly made friends that will last forever, no matter how far apart we are!
My professors, Ridwan and Syed have played a huge role in making this class such an interesting and enjoyable experience. They both are very accomplished individuals, and their dedication to mental health is very evident in the way they frame the class. I really do appreciate how they build the class content based on how we as the students want to learn. If there’s a specific concept we want to dig deeper into? They’ll take the time to incorporate that into the lecture. If there’s a concern and lack of understanding on a topic? They’ll backtrack and makes sure that each and every student feels confident to move forward. I can really tell they care about the work they do as well as educating their students, and they have inspired me in more ways than I can tell. It has been such a great environment and I would take this class 1000 times with them if I could!
Ultimately, my future is still up in the air as to where I see myself post grad. However, this class has brought many insights into my life, and I’m more motivated to pursue public health, and help all communities strive for better and more equal care. Very thankful for this class, and it’s one that I will never forget!