STUDENT LEADERS

Eight years ago, I got a total score equivalent to 97.9% in high school. At that time, my dream was joining The Faculty Of Medicine, but they required a higher total score. I joined The Faculty Of Dentistry. The first year passed fine, although I was too lazy to study. At least that was what I thought, not realizing it was a problem then. The second-year did not go well. I could never pass the exams. I’ve had nearly all kinds of hallucinations. I have seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted things that were never really there. I also used to think that I was chosen by God for a holy mission. I used to believe there was an unseen device implanted inside my body. I was sick, and I tried to take my life more than once. I couldn’t continue at The Faculty Of Dentistry, so I left it to The Faculty Of Arts. I’ve always loved the idea of being a writer as I used to read stories and novels since I was ten years old. I try to attend writing workshops. I attended the Short Story Writing workshop with the writer Mohamed Sameih. I also attended the Creative Writing workshop called “Five Mirrors” by Cairo Institute Of liberal Arts and Sciences. I have joined the department of Arabic language and its literature because I wanted to be professional with using the words and the grammar to create a novel or a story. I don’t deny that I have had difficulties with concentration and with memorizing the materials. Some times I studied and revised well but when I was having a test I couldn’t remember or write a single word of the material. Well, I keep fighting every day. The coming year is my third year at the Faculty Of Arts. I try to read and write as much as I can. I write on my facebook account and on support groups to spread awareness about schizophrenia and depression. I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder depressive type since 2017 and originally schizophrenia in 2012. I write in the Arabic language, but I hope to write short stories in English as well.

Being an intern and organizing an event at SWS has given me the chance to help to empower people, and especially students, with schizophrenia. As a psychology student and a mental health advocate, I felt the need to spread such an important message with more and more people. I’ve noticed how little people seemed to know about it here in Portugal, and how many misconceptions there were. Having had the chance to work with such amazing people at SWS, many of them fighting schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders themselves, just made it even more clear how such a stigmatized condition doesn’t have to mean someone can’t strive in their lives, despite the inherent difficulties associated. I started giving workshops at my college earlier that year, in collaboration with a Psycho-Pedagogical Support Office (GAPE) from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Lisbon. At the same time, all the contagious enthusiasm and openness of Cecilia McGough seemed to make it much easier for people to try to put on the shoes of someone with schizophrenia, rather than just discriminating and letting stigma get in their way of still viewing people as capable individuals. I took that opportunity and facilitated both organizations joining efforts and presented a workshop directed to students at the University of Lisbon. After some considerations, discussion and activities on mental health and schizophrenia specifically, Cecilia McGough joined us via video and students were able to interact and clarify some of the many doubts they still had on what it was like living with schizophrenia. I think Cecilia talking about it on a personal perspective made it possible for the students that attended the event to empathize and have a more realistic perspective on schizophrenia. Although it was a bigger event than what I ever thought I would be comfortable to present, I’ve felt so supported and encouraged by everyone in SWP that took part of it that I think I even forgot about that for a while. We need to be able to speak up, not feel like we have to hide behind the thick barriers stigma, in its many forms, creates for us. SWS has also been, by far, the more mental health-friendly organization I’ve been involved with. If we look at how fast and consistently it has been growing, we can see that accommodating and giving appropriate resources doesn’t mean, at all, we’re lowering standards – quite the opposite. And I can’t be thankful enough for having the opportunity to work with such amazing individuals.

Jason is originally from China and currently a master student studying psychology at NYU. He is interested in psychosis research and dedicated to becoming a clinical psychologist in the future. At SWP, he hopes to use his professional knowledge to help anyone in need and also raise public awareness on mental health issues. Jason is currently a member of the New York City SWP Chapter.

With OVER 100 student leader signups, there are many different ways that a student can be a student leader through SWP. Online, you can join one of our Internship Programs, Art Community, and/or participate in our social media campaigns. We welcome all students at different places in the treatment journey and different involvement levels. On-campus, you can organize an event at your school or community, start/join an SWP chapter, and/or help represent and bring psychosis to the agenda of an already established mental health club or initiative at your school. Remember that SWP is focused on peer support and community empowerment. You do not have to have psychosis to get involved, and allies are welcome. Let’s advocate for better treatment options for our community focused on the quality of life for the individual along with defending the human rights of people living with psychosis.



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