The focus of my major is mental health. My program takes a biological and psychological approach to understanding mental health and everything that can affect it. I have always found mental health interesting and I wanted to focus on the things I’m passionate about while I studied here.
This passion for learning about mental illness helped drive my ideas for my applied project. I used black out poetry to show how stigmatizing our words can be. Over the blackout poetry I put a cage made of twine and hands pulling the cage apart to represent someone breaking out of the cage that stigmatizing words can place on an individual with a mental illness. It really helped me understand how even common words that we use daily can lead to stigmatizing attitudes.
My research article was based on drug policy in other countries and the strategies used to combat illicit drug use. This contributed to my education because it reiterated how serious drug use can be as well as how widespread the effects can be. It also showed me how serious of a problem drug use is all over the world and how there are so many different approaches to control it.
My research article, applied project, and my IDS program have created such a passion for understanding drugs and how they interact with mental illness. I want to work my way up to become an addiction medicine specialist so I believe that my program helped create a great foundation for this and any future schooling I will have.
My PLN has helped me to share my thoughts and ideas, as well as hear ideas from other people who are interested in the same topic as me. I think that using twitter as a PLN has facilitated so much intellectual discussion and contact with people who I may never have gotten the opportunity to interact with before. I like twitter because you can share information, but make it personal to yourself. One of my favorite accounts to follow is a blog written by a woman who was diagnosed with Bipolar-Disorder and how her life has changed and been affected by this diagnosis. It is things like this that make me so much more passionate and proud to be learning about mental health. It shows that a mental illness doesn’t define you or limit you from functioning in society. Natasha Tracy was able to use twitter to spread awareness and shed light on a disorder than is very hard for people without it to understand. I think that has been the best part of using twitter as a PLN. Seeing how it can positively affect someone’s life and give them an outlet to show that they are not defined by their diagnosis.
Here is one of here posts:
— Natasha Tracy (@natasha_tracy) December 10, 2018
I think that my PLN has also helped me to be so much more aware of my language and the words I use on a daily basis. My applied project was heavily based on this tweet that I saw on twitter:
Show someone they’re not alone today. Even a simple text message can help anyone who might be feeling isolated. RT if you can relate. pic.twitter.com/6DHJInWDR1
— SANE (@CharitySANE) October 15, 2018
I thought this was so important. Not many people understand that commonly used language that doesn’t seem negative, can have adverse effects on people. Words like crazy, nuts, and psycho are all words that people use to describe someone who isn’t acting appropriately in a situation. This is problematic because it results in an unintentional stigmatization of mental illness. It also makes light of a mental illness that causes a lot of distress in a person’s life. My PLN helped me realize that just because someone is acting silly or made a mistake, doesn’t mean they’re psycho, nuts, crazy, insane, or anything of that nature.
Another great example of how our language can be so harmful if we aren’t mindful of the way we speak. Even to ourselves, negative words can facilitate feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. Be kind to yourself and one another!! https://t.co/OZTxJgl2X4
— MacKenzie Kennedy (@mcknz_knndy22) December 10, 2018
Lasting shame is caused not by a single event, but by repeated blows to our self-esteem. Here’s how to let it go and enjoy life. https://t.co/zfkp0o4263
— Psychology Today (@PsychToday) December 10, 2018
Much of the time we have no idea that the words we choose to use are stigmatizing mental illness. We need to be more mindful of this and understand how large of an impact our words can have https://t.co/gjuSXAH3ac
— MacKenzie Kennedy (@mcknz_knndy22) December 10, 2018
Another thing I really appreciated about using my PLN is that I was able to read a lot of scientific articles that I may not have come across otherwise. One of the best articles I read was this one:
Dopamine Drives Early Addiction to Heroinhttps://t.co/7YQEEdIWhx
When they silenced the dopamine neurons, the mice were much less likely to self-administer heroin. #dopamine #addiction #neuroscience #psychology #science
— Neuroscience News (@NeuroscienceNew) October 30, 2018
Sometimes scholarly articles can be bogged down with lots of jargon from whatever discipline it came from. The account that tweeted most of the articles reported them in easy to understand summaries that explained the main findings and why they were important. It helped me expand my knowledge of narcotics, neuroscience, mental illness, and so many other interesting topics that I may not have learned about otherwise.
I think that overall, my PLN helped facilitate a greater amount of learning in areas that I am specifically interested in. I got to hand pick the accounts and people I followed so that I would be able to have a steady flow of information from topics that I am most interested in and passionate about. I really enjoyed using twitter and learning about the more academic side of it and I want to continue to use it to accrue more knowledge on these topics.