My name is Courtney Lutes, and this is an abridged version of why I became involved with Peer Supporters and Active Minds, both student support groups at the Monroe Campus.
In middle school, I had so much trouble making friends. The mental illnesses I struggle with became worse. By my freshman year of high school, I was extremely depressed. I switched to cyber school, thinking it would help, but that’s when things became even harder for me.
I never left my bed. I set alarms to wake me up to remember to log into my classes. When I wasn’t online at class, I stayed in my bed, sleeping, even during the summer. If my friends wanted to see me, they had to come to my house. I stopped seeing family, and it was always a fight with my parents when they wanted me to leave the house. My depression worsened and I tried to commit suicide that year.
My mom, trying to help, sent me back to public school. Sadly, it didn’t work. In fact, my depression grew even worse. I stopped being involved with everything. By the end of that school year I tried to commit suicide three days before my 16th birthday.
After that I had an eye-opening moment. I started to think about my future and how I wanted to grow up and live out this dream of advocating for mental health awareness, a dream I always shared with my dad.
I got started in high school. Not many people cared, and it made my advocacy seem futile until I started at Northampton Community College. At Northampton, people are more open to listening and discussing mental health and not avoiding the subject. In high school, many of the staff seemed to consider mental health a huge taboo that shouldn’t be discussed.
At NCC, I was given the opportunity to be a Peer Supporter, which allows students to be a resource for their peers to talk to, get help or find tools during times of need. At Northampton, so many things are set in place to make people feel comfortable sharing about anything that falls within mental health and helping students to be happier and more likely to succeed.
Active Minds is another initiative I’m proud to be a part of at Northampton. It’s a national organization that has a chapter at NCC Monroe. The club raises awareness around mental health to help lower suicide rates and work more broadly for overall mental well-being.
I felt alone in high school, and I was scared it was going to be the same in college. It turned out to be the complete opposite and I’m so proud to be a part of these groups. I’m beyond excited for the upcoming semesters, filled with events designed to bring people together and embrace a healthy campus atmosphere that promotes mental well-being.
[Published in the Fall 2019 Northampton Community College Magazine.]