Part One: Understanding Mental Health in the Midst of Chaos

Arianna Allen
Online and Podcast Editor

On Jan. 1, 2020, who would have thought that seven months into this year that our world would be in the midst of a pandemic, our country would be in the fight for justice and human hearts would be filled with uncertainty and fear. 

In a recent Instagram poll that I posted on my story I asked my followers to answer the question, “How would you describe the year 2020 (so far) in one word?” 

I received a wide range of answers that evidenced the several emotions that the hearts of our community have been experiencing. 

Some have felt that this year has been “traumatic.” 

While others have described this year as “challenging.” 

And some are tired because of the “exhausting” events of 2020.

While others believe 2020 has been a “disaster” during this “chaotic” time. 

Although it can be so easy to be consumed with discouragement, we have to remember that “adversity is not a dead end but a detour to a better outcome than you can imagine” by Jon Gordon. 

This year is not over– we have the ability to change our perspective, our perception and our outlook through maintaining our mental health. In part one of a two-part article, we will learn a deeper understanding about mental health. 

Torrey Smith, a retired 2x Superbowl champion, tweeted recently, “Mental health is wealth! Prioritize it!” It is crucial that in the midst of the chaos that each one of us is prioritizing our mental health. 

The first step that we can take in prioritizing mental health is by understanding what it means. 

In an interview with Dr. Keny Felix, Broward College adjunct professor and licensed mental health counselor, he defined mental health as “the state of someone’s emotional and psychological well-being and then bleeds into how one functions daily in response to life as a whole.” 

Dr. Felix went on to state that our body and mind work together to ensure that we are functioning properly. When something in our body is not working properly, it can affect our mental state. “It all interplays with the environment as well,” he said. 

There is a common misconception that mental health and mental illness mean the same thing. Although the two are influenced by one another, Dr. Felix states “it (mental illness) can occur when we are dealing with circumstances that impact our ability to function.” He went on to list examples of mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, a personality disorder, an eating disorder etc. 

When discussing mental illness, Dr. Felix emphasized that “All of us need to be mindful of our mental health and in the same way, we at times can experience mental illness that then impacts our overall mental health and our health as a whole.” 

Prior to the pandemic, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it states that “one in five U.S adults suffer from mental illness each year” while stating that “suicide is the second leading cause of death for people from the age of 10-34 years old.” 

These alarming statistics illustrate the urgency to understand the various ways to determine how well we are functioning and ideas to practice when it comes to our mental state while breaking the stigma.

When determining the state of our mental health, Dr. Felix refers back to the idea of functioning. “There is a difference between the day to day challenges that we experience and then when those challenges get to a level where they impair our ability to move forward and function,” he said.

We can be mindful by answering these questions that Dr. Felix proposed when determining our mental health: How well are you functioning on the day to day basis? How well are you managing through your day to day relationships and different circles? How are you experiencing your environment? Are you experiencing your environment where there are a lot of stressors? 

When asked the question “At what point do you think that someone should seek help?” Dr. Felix responded that “We all can benefit from therapy.” 

He went on to define therapy as a “relationship where the individual works with a clinician, a confident and trusting relationship to allow you to explore your mental health.” 

According to a recent student services email that was sent on July 15, 2020, Broward College is “providing psychological and psychiatric counseling services to its students at no charge.” The email went on to state that “these services are provided by Henderson Student Counseling” and does not need a referral with each student receiving up to six counseling sessions for free. The phone number to call is 954-424-6919. You also may email them your contact information via email at student counseling

For more information and specific details refer back to your BC Outlook email inbox from Student Services email with the subject being “Free REMOTE Mental Health Counseling for Broward College Students’ ‘ that was sent on July 15, 2020. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current circumstances, you may also click here to see how Broward College is willing to help through the Seahawk Outreach Services. 

If you need help right now, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life matters. You are valued. You are loved. 

In the words of Dr. Felix, “we have to look at this as a very challenging season that we are in, not a permanent reality, in other words, we will see an improvement with the pandemic.” 

We are in this together, continue fighting the good fight through the trials and tribulations and remember to prioritize your mental health daily. 

Now that we have a deeper understanding about what mental health is, stay on the lookout for part 2 when discussing practices to maintain our mental health.

The human mind/ Photo courtesy of

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