Gina Miranda serves as an advocate for mental health awareness. | Photo by Grace DeSanti.

“I am someone who always put myself last,” junior health studies student and THRIVE club president, Gina Miranda said. ”I was always drained and felt undervalued. So, I took more control over my life within the last year, and it changed my life.”

Using her experiences with mental health, Miranda is doing everything in her power to make fellow students aware of the importance of mental health.

Miranda said she first realized that taking control of her mentality and focusing on self love and self care was important when she realized how having little time for herself had a negative impact.

She recently spoke at the DIVE RI conference about the importance of mental health and her journey to awareness. She urged students to do what felt healthy for them and make life changes if needed.

Speaking about her own experiences is what drove Miranda to give the speech to relate to fellow students, and make them aware of the steps that they can take towards controlling their mental health.

“I basically emphasized that we have to highlight that we are just as important as we make everyone else out to be,” Miranda said. “We need to make sure that our needs are, at least, not met last.”

Implementing self love and self care is just one step towards taking control of your mental health, she said.

“Self love is different from self care,” Miranda said. “Self care is more of things that restore you physiologically, mentally and emotionally. Self love is something that has more principles and actually strengthens you to move forward. It kind of helps you to find your values and your limitations, as well as what you will endure from other people and yourself.”

Focusing on self love is something that involves action from each individual. Making decisions of what to keep in your life and what is not beneficial to you is the hardest part, Miranda said.

“It’s also about cutting relationships, making time for yourself even if you wouldn’t usually,” she said.

Miranda hopes to motivate students to implement self love, self care and mental health awareness by supporting her friends and challenging their thoughts when she hears about issues they may be having.

“Whenever [people] come to me with an issue or problem, I always ask them questions that might challenge their beliefs or thoughts,” Miranda said. “I always ask if their worries or concerns are based on legitimate reasons, and if not I ask them what they can and can’t control. If they can’t control it, let go, if they can, do something about it.”

Miranda earned the position of Resident Advisor for the next school year, and Housing and Residential Life Director Frankie Minor explained that she puts her all into spreading positivity and awareness around campus.

“Gina is a very passionate individual,” Minor said. “She cares very deeply about things, particularly about people. I think that she is very passionate about trying to make the world a better place, or a least the part of the world that she can influence. She is willing to look beyond some of the traditional issues that students are frequently concerned about.”

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Theresa Brown
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