Existing at the Intersection of Mental Health and Stigma: Isabella’s Story

In the newest film from our student-led Maxwell Gray Film Fellowship, Isabella, a student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, shares her experience with anxiety as a Latina woman. “In my culture, mental health is not talked about very much,” she explains. As a result, when she spoke openly about her mental health, tension grew in her family.

She found that, as the eldest daughter and first to leave home, there was immense pressure to succeed in this new environment. Suddenly, she had to learn how to balance caring for herself with the academic demands of her schooling, all while missing home. To manage, she grew to rely on unhealthy strategies to cope with her daily struggles. When she finally found the courage to confide in her family, her challenges were dismissed.

“Because they were dismissive of my mental health struggles, I felt betrayed and resentful toward their reactions.”

With the encouragement of her boyfriend, Isabella decided to seek help. At the beginning of the new year, she began to see a therapist who helped equip her with the skills she needed to navigate some of her greatest challenges. She learned the benefit of prioritizing her well-being and strategies to manage her emotions that stopped her from heading down a destructive path.

By continuing to be open about her mental health and the benefits of therapy with her family, their relationship began to heal. Often, it can be hard to fight against stigma, especially when it impacts our relationships with our loved ones. Fortunately, Isabella was able to show her family, and herself, that mental health care is a valuable part of wellness and isn’t something to hide.

Isabella’s story shows the value in fighting stigma and the healing it can provide.

You are not alone. Find your community. 

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This project was funded by The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, in memory of Maxwell Gray, and the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Collaborative Innovations Fund at the U-M Eisenberg Family Depression Center.