Author Archives: anyaolson10

About anyaolson10

A current sophomore Mass Communications major at Piedmont College

Not Your Typical High School

High school is a time for young individuals to grow and learn new things about themselves while being surrounded by uplifting peers and teachers. For Madison (Madi) Gallarelli, high school was an unescapable four-year nightmare of harassment and homophobia. 

Gallarelli attended private Catholic schools from Kindergarten to her senior year of high school. Her parents were Catholic and raised their family the same way. Unfortunately, Gallarelli’s parents were unaware of the alarming side effects associated with going to a Catholic school after Gallarelli came out as gay her freshman year. 

“My school taught us that being homosexual is merely a temptation and that I would be accepted in the church until I acted on that temptation,” said Gallarelli. “But once I acted on it, I was told I would be excommunicated.” 

Gallarelli recalls her junior year morality class discussion when the topic of homosexuality was talked about. Gallarelli says her school only discussed the topic for one day, leaving the students completely uneducated on the topic. It was obvious to Gallarelli that the school wanted to ignore homosexuality, leaving many unanswered questions for her but also for other students ignorant to the subject. Gallarelli was one out of two openly gay students in a school of about one thousand kids. 

“No one else wanted to come out because they were terrified of what would happen to them if they did,” Gallarelli said. “People would call me gross, faggot and dyke. Every day in class, a girl I barely knew would push all of my stuff off my desk, and my teacher did nothing.” 

Gallarelli explains her social life struggles and the harassment that she faced as an openly gay individual in a Catholic school. She recalls how this behavior made her feel and the emotional stress it added to her life. 

“My mental health plummeted. I had suicidal and self-harming thoughts,” Gallarelli said. “When everyone is calling me disgusting every day, it becomes hard not to believe it.” 

Gallarelli’s personality began to change as a result of the school harassment. She remembers feeling constantly depressed and anxious in her everyday life, resulting in a drastic personality alteration.

“Madi completely changed from the happy, funny and outgoing person we had always known to someone who was withdrawn, quiet and full of anxiety and self-doubt,” Gallarelli’s Mother, Michelle Gallarelli, said. “She wouldn’t talk to anyone, and we worried about her constantly.” 

Mrs. Gallarelli states the changes she saw in her daughter due to the constant harassment at school. Mrs. Gallarelli was almost completely unaware that Madi was experiencing severe homophobia everyday by her peers. As the bullying continued, Gallarelli explains her high school years as her lowest point mentally, eventually leading to her battle with internalized homophobia. 

The rainbow project, an organization that promotes the health and wellbeing of the LBGTQ+ community, defines internalized homophobia as oppression that happens to gay, lesbian and bisexual people who have learned and been taught that heterosexuality is the norm and “correct way to be.” Internalized homophobia is a mental illness that creates a negative self-worth of oneself because of their sexual orientation. 

“I began to force myself in uncomfortable situations as a way to try and “fix” myself,” Gallarelli says. “I had been taught that homosexuality was a choice by my school, so I tried to choose a heterosexual lifestyle.” 

Gallarelli remembers her attempt to change herself by hanging out and going on dates with boys. She recalls pushing herself to uncomfortable lengths in hopes of not being disgusted by herself. 

“Of course, none of that worked,” Gallarelli said. “So, I began my journey in therapy in hopes of helping my crippling thoughts.” 

Gallarelli started therapy her junior year of high school after two years of constant harassment from peers at school. Gallarelli knew she needed a safe space to reveal her traumatic school experiences that were ultimately degrading her perception of herself. 

“Therapy helped my mind to shift its thinking,” Gallarelli said. “I began to think more highly of myself and care less about what others thought of me.”

Gallarelli explains her victories in therapy and the impact it had on her mentally. She began to work through her internalized homophobia and realized that she should not hate herself because of her sexuality. 

“After Madi started therapy, she started to find herself again,” Michelle Gallarelli said. “She regained her confidence, voice and self-worth.” 

Michelle Gallarelli recalls seeing the change in her daughter’s personality after her therapy began. Not only did Madi Gallarelli’s mood change, but so did her outlook on life. 

“I began to realize, if there is a God, He wouldn’t condemn me to hell for loving another human,” Gallarelli said. 

Gallarelli explains her big break-through moment while in therapy. Going to a private Catholic school for her whole life shaped her thinking to be specific to the teachings of the church. She constantly thought negatively about herself due to her teachers and peers in school. Now, thanks to therapy and her progress in mental health, Gallarelli is able take further steps in understanding what makes her happy and with whom she should surround herself. 

“I came to Piedmont because of the supportive environment,” Gallarelli said. “I surround myself with people who accept me and love me for who I am.” 

Gallarelli has found her true self in the clothes she wears, the friends she has and the overall support she has received since leaving Catholic schooling.

“Madi positively impacts so many people’s lives by just being herself,” said Marissa Taghon, roommate and best friend of Gallarelli. “She is the most caring and supportive person I know and will drop anything to be there for a friend when they need it.” 

Taghon explains how Gallarelli is the first person to ask if she is doing okay and make it known how much she cares about her friends. Taghon loves having her around as a positive and inspiring light in her life. 

Throughout Madi Gallarelli’s experience enduring harassment, deteriorating mental health and homophobia due to attending a Catholic high school, she has shown strength in facing her struggles head on.  

“I don’t regret experiencing the bullying in high school because it has made me the person I am today,” Gallarelli said. “Resilient, confident and very gay.” 

The Consequences of Being A Residential Assistant

Being a Residential Assistant (RA) at Piedmont College comes with many consequences that RAs do not expect.. 

According to Mark Jestel, current Residential Director (RD) of Piedmont College, the role of an RA is to, “create and maintain a safe, orderly and supportive environment for their residents.” RAs sign up for the job with the intent to keep their residents safe; however, the line between safety, responsibilities, and the definition of innocent fun seems to be unclear.

“A hammock,” said former Residential Assistant Caitlyn Worthy. “I got forced to tell my residents who were having harmless fun to take down their hammock.” 

Unsure why she had to confiscate the hammock, Worthy explained her first forced write-up between her residents and herself as former RD, Cordell Jones. He gave Worthy no option but to act on this situation with no explanation of how the act of harmlessly sitting in a hammock is dangerous.

“I felt awful for ruining their good time that was clearly not harming anyone, but I had to do my job,” she said. 

Worthy remembers feeling upset that her residents would not like or trust her after having to confiscate their hammock. Worthy was responding to her superior’s wishes by removing the item. 

After speaking with multiple former and current RAs, Worthy is not the only RA of Piedmont that has felt forced into responding unfairly to their residents by their supervisors. Of these RAs, it is understood that there is a large responsibility that comes with the job, but there is a difference between safety concerns and harmless fun. Actions like these cause RAs on campus to be seen as the “bad guy” seeking to write up their residents for no real offense. It is detrimental to the college experience, not only for residents, but for the RAs as well. Forced write-ups cause lack of trust for a RA’s residents which ultimately leads to a change in a RA’s social life.

“I signed up to be an RA because I needed cheaper college,” said former RA Madison Comer since RAs receive half off the cost of their room and board on campus, “I got blocked from my friends Snapchat stories because they didn’t want me getting them in trouble.” 

Most college memories are made from having good friends and a great social life, but being an RA comes with losing that aspect of the college experience.

“Early on, we are told we live in a fishbowl,” said current RA of three years Martin Gravely. However, Gravely agreed that he was not warned or aware of the side effects that come with being an RA. People treat these students differently, specifically because of the title “Residential Assistant”.

“I can tell things are different when I’m sitting with a group of friends all sharing stories,” first-year RA Christopher Bale explains. “They all stop talking, look at me and then change the topic, not wanting to get in trouble.”

Bale explains feeling socially distant from his peers. There is an obvious disconnect between RAs and regular students. When students sign up to be a RA, rules do not state how much one’s social life will change. 

Jestel adds, “It is a big learning experience trying to figure out how to go about writing up your friends and understanding that you’re doing a job.” 

But some Ras feel the rules are inconsistent, making it hard for RAs to understand the purpose of their job. 

“There’s so much inconsistency in what we are told to do,” Gravely said. “I was told by an assistant resident director to make a room take down their Michelob Ultra flag. I confiscated it and gave it to my director, but the next day the flag was given back to the room by my RD.” 

Gravely explains his actions against that room seem to have been pointless because of how his superiors acted. He says that he now looks like the bad RA by that room just from doing what he was told. 

RAs feel as if they are walking on eggshells with the student body, as well as their bosses. Although they recognize that It is essential to ensure safety across campus, some feel the definition of “safety” seems to be misconstrued at Piedmont.

 “Until these issues are addressed, I think there will be a decrease in students wanting to become RA’s in the next coming years.” said Christopher Bale who does not plan continuing his job as an RA at Piedmont College.

“The Queen’s Gambit”

It all began with a square board game, 36 pieces, and two players, and the threat of checkmate. To most individuals, the mention of the word “chess” does not bring sweeping excitement or fascination. I would imagine the words “boring” and “dull” might arise considering the amount of patience — a trait most lack – is required for the game. However, Netflix’s original series “The Queen’s Gambit” starring Anya Taylor-Joy is a complete attention grabber making the topic of chess nothing short of a binge-worthy thriller. Driven by a powerful lead performer who strikes her audience with authentic emotions and gripping energy strong enough to make this show one of Netflix’s best series. It is a race between character development with trials of addiction, mania and trauma that capture the immediate attention of each viewer through excitement and relevant topics. Scott Frank with co-creator Alan Scott adapts Walter Tevis’s novel into a show that has turned chess into a thrill ride for millions of viewers. 

The story begins with 8-year-old Beth Harmon (Isla Johnson), a newly-orphaned child after a car crash that takes her mother as well as leaving Beth mentally stricken, but physically unscratched. With no father in the picture, Beth is sent to a Christian School for girls and left awaiting adoption. Meanwhile, in the school, she discovers a love for chess thanks to the help of her school janitor as well as some little green tranquilizer pills that each student is given. When it comes to Beth’s time for adoption, she remains driven by her addiction to chess and the green pills that supply her with hallucinations, helping her understanding of the game grow. In short, the coming years of Beth’s addiction lead her on a dangerous path of substance abuse in midst of her character’s development to find herself as a young adult in a male-dominated world.

Beth is a real handful… and not just in her childhood years. Anya Taylor-Joy works precisely to capture Beth’s enthusiasm and wit while balancing her mental and emotional downward spiral. While the story revolves around Beth’s chess success, it also expressions the intoxicating loneliness of Beth’s relationship with herself and others while also coping with trauma. Taylor-Joy captures Beth’s lowest points of downing bottles in stranger’s apartments to her biggest achievements like flying across the world to compete against the very best chess players. She embodies Beth’s lost, confused yet energetic and enthusiastic self as if she were actually Harmon. 

Scott Frank and Alan Scott do more than cast their lead perfectly. Supporting characters such as Beth’s adoptive mother, Alma Wheatley played by Marielle Heller in captures the role of a housewife struggling to survive on her own. Heller embodies the emotions of a grown woman who has yet to find herself or her dreams. Next comes Harry Beltik (Harry Melling) and Townes (Jacob Lloyd) who become incredible competitors to Beth. Through trials, these actors prove their loyalty and dedication to the part through the confusion of Beth’s life. Each supporting actor/actress brings a dedication to their role, adding more and more value as the show continues. 

“The Queens Gambit” strikes the heart and the mind. A newfound fascination with chess mixed with the trials of Beth Harmon’s life will capture you entirely. As Beth’s journey continues, she discovers more of herself while always keeping chess in the back of her mind. Through battles of addiction and trauma, Beth is able to grow from her past with the help of others. Finding your passion means nothing without the relationships built along the way. You’re going to want to checkmate this show off your watch list.  

“Just Like Magic” -Ariana Grande

At 27-years-old, Ariana Grande released her sixth album Positions, which spent 15 weeks on the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart. Featured in the album is the energetic hit song, “Just Like Magic,” speaking on Grande’s overwhelming musical success. The lyrics, “Just like magic, I’m attractive, I get everything I want ‘cause I attract it” is an ode to her career accomplishments. The musician details her enviable life by recalling the Law of Attraction, which uses the power of the mind to translate our thoughts and materialize reality. As one of the most successful musical artists, I think we could all use a bit of Grande’s manifestation tactics.

Living With Anxiety

Mind racing. A constant wave of negative thoughts. Insecurities and doubts overtake my brain.

I remember my first anxiety attack vividly. I could tell you exactly where I was, who I was with and the reason that sparked the attack. That happened years ago. But since then, I have been in a constant downhill battle against my own brain. 

One might wonder what exactly those thoughts are that swirl around in my mind, banging louder and louder until they are heard. They are my worst fears. They are random scenarios that my brain decides to make up and then convinces me will happen. They are sad and lonely voices. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with generalized anxiety display excessive worry about a number of things such as relationships, athletics, school and everyday life. Some anxiety symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty focusing. 

Although feelings of worry and occasional anxiety are completely normal to most people, an overwhelming number of individuals suffer from more than an occasional nervousness. 

Anxiety is prominent in all ages and genders. However, anxiety within a college campus reigns high. In the fall of 2018, the National College Health Assessment surveyed college students from around the United States and reported 63% of individuals having experienced an overwhelming amount of anxiety. It was also stated that 23% reported seeking treatment from a mental health professional. 

However, 2018 was pre-pandemic, and the added stress of virtual learning, social distance and masks had not been dealt with yet. A small survey was done on Texas A&M students in May of 2020 discussing added stress and anxiety due to COVID-19. Out of a survey of 195 students, 138 of them reported extreme anxiety as a result of the pandemic — 71% of students began experiencing anxiety. 

Anxiety is a serious mental illness that fails to be acknowledged most days. If an individual or friend reports feeling anxious or worried, the many people respond, “Hey don’t stress everything will be okay.” If someone suffers a severe cut and arrives at the emergency room ready for stitches, a doctor replying, “Hey stop stressing about it, it’ll be alright,” would not suffice. 

Although anxiety is not a visible illness, it should be taken just as seriously as an open gash on a leg. Pain should not be overlooked regardless of whether it is mental or physical. So instead of repressing the matter, the focus should be on directing individuals towards the appropriate help they need. 

The best advice that helped me manage, maintain and grow with my anxiety is talking about my feelings. Whether that involves a friend, family member or counselor. The more bottled up emotions become, the harder they are to let go of and to move on from. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety the most helpful thing to do is to support them by being available to talk and listen. 

However, when more serious actions are needed, consult an authoritative figure. Every college campus has counselors waiting to help at any moment. Resources regarding counseling can come from professors but can also be found online.

Living with anxiety is challenging, but you are never alone. Millions of others are fighting the same battle every day, and countless resources are available to help. Mental illness is not something that should be ignored. Do not be afraid to seek help. 

Remember to Give Yourself a Break, Student-Athlete Edition

Sleep. Eat. School. Athletics. Repeat.

For most college athletes, their life revolves around their sport. When a college athlete is not in the classroom grinding their academics, they are on the field grinding out their sport. Spare time is never guaranteed for a college athlete.

Under current NCAA rules, student-athletes are not supposed to spend more than 20 hours a week on required athletic activities. Most college coaches maximize those 20 hours with two-hour practices five times per week, as well as daily weight training up to four times per week. 

Twenty hours of athletics per week can become overwhelming when classes already take up most of the day. In order to be considered a full-time student, individuals have to take 12 credit hours, which equates to about four courses. Most students take on a heavier load which tends to be 15 to 18 credit hours per semester. Altogether, school and athletics can take up 32 to 38 hours of a student-athlete’s 168-hour week.

In a 2018 survey conducted by Duke University, students reported having about 17 hours of homework, reading and studying per week. That does not even include the bare necessities of life, such as sleep and eating. An average amount of sleep for a college student is estimated to be six to seven hours based on research from the University of Georgia. As a complete calculation, adding in school, sports, sleeping and eating, student-athletes average 91 to 104  hours of occupied time. 

After determining student-athletes’ schedules, it becomes easier to understand the pressure these students face. College and sports are very demanding activities that consume individuals’ lives. It is important for student-athletes to take downtime to relax and focus on themselves. Stresses including family, finance, social and personal issues impact students daily. If these busy student-athletes do not take time to unwind and relax, then more stress will accumulate in their lives.

According to the American Psychological Association, when stress is ignored, symptoms including insomnia, anxiety and digestive issues arise. Even extremes such as heart disease and diabetes can occur. 

Great stress relievers include getting more sleep, socializing with friends, meditating and finding ways to manage time successfully. It is very important that student-athletes find a healthy balance between their activities and downtime. Finding a way to relax and relieve the pressures of day-to-day life is beneficial to mental and physical health.Individuals who are experiencing stress due to the demands of being a student-athlete can always seek help through friends, family and college faculty. Resources regarding stress relief can be found within school faculty means such as counseling. Student-athletes should not feel disparaged for seeking help; managing and reducing stress will improve livelihood. 


WriterAnastasia OlsonContactOlson, AnastasiaTelephone706-778-8500 x1553Cell706-548-8505 x8020Emailjschmitz@piedmont.eduWebsitewww.piedmont.eduFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 4, 2020

Piedmont Professor Julie Schmitz incorporates Global Hand Washing Day as an attempt to bring awareness to a pandemic struck world. 

Demorest, Georgia, September 4, 2020 – Biology Professor Dr. Julia Schmitz wants to bring a new understanding of proper hygiene to Piedmont students, and Global Hand Washing Day on Thursday, Oct. 15 presents the perfect opportunity.

“You guys are all going to think differently about handwashing now,” said Schmitz.  “You should wash your hands anytime you feel like they aren’t clean.” 

Schmitz emphasized the need to understand how to properly wash your hands, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Global Hand Washing Day on Oct. 15 is an advocacy day created to stress the importance of hand washing. Schmitz wants students to learn the effectiveness of soap and the correct way to wash your hands. 

“Soap is a surfactant that binds to the water and the oil on your hands,” Schmitz said. “When you rinse off the soap you will also rinse off the germs connected to the oil on your hands.” 

Schmitz said it is vital to wash your hands after activities such as going to the bathroom, touching animals and before eating, adding that using the hottest water possible will most effectively kill any harmful bacteria.

Schmitz sees Global Hand Washing Day as an opportunity to add a new understanding of hand washing to students, and on Thursday, Oct. 15, an event will be hosted on campus to promote handwashing.

 “I have my students create their own lab project about handwashing,” Schmitz said. “I want them to design something interesting to them.” 

As a biology professor who is constantly working with germs, Schmitz strives to show her students the impact germs have on society. Schmitz and Global Hand Washing Day have a common theme of asking individuals to design and test creative ways of washing their hands in order to encourage and bring awareness to others. 

Mass Communications Professor Joe Dennis decided to get involved in Schmitz’s activism, helping develop and promote events on campus.

“The evidence is clear that proper handwashing is one of the best ways to combat coronavirus.” Dennis said. “I didn’t realize there were so many places on the hands that people often miss when washing.” 

Global Hand Washing Day is calling all of society to step up their hand hygiene in a critical time. Hand Washing is a priority and the future of the world. For more information about Piedmont events relating to Global Handwashing Day, contact Dennis at

About Piedmont College

One of the most dynamic small colleges in the Southeast, Piedmont is an independent liberal arts college of more than 2,260 students. The college’s four schools—Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, and Nursing & Health Sciences—develop tomorrow’s leaders by engaging students in the classroom, in their community, and around the world. Founded in 1897, Piedmont offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degree programs at its Demorest residential campus in the foothills of the northeast Georgia mountains and at its Athens campus in the heart of Georgia’s Classic City. Information can be found at

Killing Homelessness with Kindness

My dad taught me many important qualities growing up. The most critical lesson he instilled in me was to treat everyone with kindness, no matter their circumstance. 

Growing up in Southern California I was exposed to more than just sunny weather and beach waves. California represents a quarter of the homeless population in the United States, which totals 151, 278individuals. I was exposed to this plight of homeless people on a daily basis.

Near my high school, a fairly middle to upper-class area, stood one homeless person on every street corner. Sometimes there were multiple individuals fighting for one spot because every block for a few miles was taken. Worst of all was driving through downtown San Diego and observing the rows of tents that they called home. My heart always went out to these suffering individuals asking for a day’s work or a couple of bucks to feed themselves. 

553,742 individuals in the United States experience homelessness on any given night. The United States Department of Housing and Urban development estimates that 50% of the homeless population experienced some kind of substance abuse, mental illness or psychiatric disorder that enabled them to build a stable life for themselves. Without proper help these individuals are not given a fair chance to rebuild their lives.  

The most tragic part to me is the stigma towards the homeless population. Most people I’m around simply say, “Well they did it to themselves,” and turn a blind eye from the problem right in front of them. 

I will present a scenario to you. A young adult joins the armed forces, is sent to another country but returns to the US with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have no way of dealing with their pain because their country did not advise them a way to do so safely. Instead they find their way to drugs, a way to numb the suffering they are feeling. This results in extreme drug abuse and eventually homelessness. In the end, most of the homeless population lacks the proper ways to get help and therefore cannot rebuild their life successful. 

Homelessness is not always the individual’s fault. In most cases they lost control of their body and their mind, and without proper help they were never able to get back on their feet. 

Kindness can present itself in many forms. Maybe it will be giving a homeless person your spare change, leftover food or bag of supplies such as toothbrush, socks and granola bars. Even things such as “How are you doing today?” will brighten the day of someone who receives a lack of kindness.

Homelessness is a serious issue in the United States. The first step in resolving this problem starts with every person holding themselves accountable for their actions and ultimately showing kindness to those who need it the most. 

A Journey to Finding Myself

Throughout my life I have never lived in a stable environment. I grew up in a military family, which included moving every 3 or so years. I have lived in a total of 5 states including Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina and California. I had become terribly accustomed to changing schools, making new friends and living in a foriegn area. Life was never constant for me. I could never rely on being in a certain place which meant my life was always up in the air. I’ve been on a journey to find myself while areas in my life continually changed. However, methods of finding myself came from multiple areas in my life. Through soccer, family and sincere friendships, I developed charcatertistics which guided my path towards finding myself.

Soccer has been my ride or die. Soccer has allowed me to discover myself as an athlete as well as a person. I began playing at the young age of 4 years old. As I moved around, I was able to depend on soccer for my social and physical life. I began making new friends easily with every new team I was on. And while making friends, I was in a happy enviornment. Secondly, I was practicing further and increasing my soccer skills. I was now a exceptionally better athlete. I found my passion and my drive through soccer. I also had a weekly activity to look forward to which gave me hope to having a future around soccer. With that in mind, I decided to look at colleges in which I will be able to have a part of me at a future school.

My family has always been an incredible support to me. I credit my success to their supportiveness. My parents continuously encouraged me to follow my passions such as soccer as well as soccer interests. They drove me everywhere I needed to be without a complant. My extended family also supported me by showing interest in my studies as well as coming to any soccer games they could, regardless of how far away they may be. I am forever grateful for my families effort to support me. I could not have made it through any challenges or tough times wihout them by my side.

Lastly, moving to different states gave me the opportunity to come in contact with individuals from different areas of the country. I have friends all around the United States. Although making friends can be challenging and scary, the ones I do have are exceptional and wholesome individuals. My friends put giant smiles on my face while leaving me with a stomach ache from too much laughter. They made me feel purposeful and important which gave me confidence. Having such great friends who supported me and challenged me to become a better person made me feel good about myself. I also discovered that I loved being social and interacting with others, which guided me to knowing I wanted to pursue a career that involved communicating with individuals. Thanks to some great friends, I was able to find a new social and confident aspect of myself.

Altogether, my journey to finding myself has been bumpy, I have prospered due to soccer, family and friends as support. Moving around while growing up is not easy. I learned to make the best of everywhere I moved by turning my experience positive. So, through constant suport and encouragement I was able to develop as a person and find key aspects of myself. Furthermore, the charcateristics I learned about myself eventually led me to Piedmont College. Piedmont College continues to make me a well-rounded individual through Liberal Arts education, playing on the women’s soccer team as well as finding new amazing friends. I am thankful for where my journey has led me.

The Glorification of Mental Illness in Social Media: The Negative Effects on Individual’s Lives.

Demorest, Ga— Social media allows people to remain connected to others at all times, but it can also lead to negative effects on individual’s lives. 

“The risk of negative consequences on an individual with mental health are much greater when an individual is constantly online,” Said Abby Cox, a junior Mass Communications major. “Multiple factors like social media lead to mental illness.” 

Cox presented her research, “Beautiful Suffering Turned to Dark Dismay: Glorification of Mental Illness on Social Media,” at The 2020 Piedmont Symposium, held on April 15. Cox recalls misconceptions and misbeliefs of mental illness within the media. Expressing concern for the well-being and mental health of others, she notes the negative impact that social media has on those with illnesses. 

“Belittling the severity of mental illness can make those with mental illness feel belittled,” She said. 

Cox’s words regarded the seriousness of her topic. Cox says the impact that a belittling statement, such as being “depressed” because an individual is unable to attend a concert, has a detrimental effect on a person who is clinically depressed.

“These statements hurt your feelings and make you think that maybe your pain doesn’t matter or isn’t anything serious,” Cox says. 

The more social media romanticizes mental illness, the less likely it is for an individual with an actual mental illness to speak up. An individual’s self-esteem plummets and their health and well-being are harmed. 

“By researching this topic, it has really opened my eyes on how frequently mental illness is glorified through social media,” Cox said, noting that millions of individuals suffer from mental illness such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder. “So, the fact that some people are not taking such a thing seriously is disheartening.” 

Cox says that individuals on social media platforms use emotions such as sadness in their photo captions and poses online. Other viewers will look up to these photos and then strive to be ‘sad’ as well. People on social media are not aware of their impact on those who are mental ill. 

Dr. Melissa Tingle, mass communications professor and Cox’s research adviser, said that she has seen social media used as a channel to highlight mental illness. “Sometimes they are constructively written and helpful to others and some lack of false humility and pity that feels like the individual is seeking attention.”

Tingle thinks that some individuals use mental illness in social media as a way to gain attention. Although some people are genuine, others are ignorant to their negative actions on social media. Tingle says that it is best if people are more aware of what they are putting online.

“I had never really noticed the negative impact until now,” Connor Rogers said after watching Cox’s presentation, “I can see now that my friends act sad to seem cool — like it is a popular trend.” 

Rogers recalls hearing his friends throw around the word “depression” as a casual thing. He says that it seems like people want to be depressed because it makes them cooler and edgier than others. 

“People need to realize that mental illness is a real thing that affects millions of people,” Rogers said. “Throwing around terms like depression and anxiety need to stop.” 

Rogers realizes that mental illness is a severe disease and individuals should do what they can to eliminate the glorification in social media. He is willing to do his part in spreading positivity online and around his peers in order to stop the glorification. 

“We have to be careful about what we post and how our posts are interpreted,” Cox said. “We should help stop the things that other people post if they are glorifying social media.” 

Cox calls for the increased spread of positivity on social media as well as more awareness when someone is typing a caption or taking a photo in order to stop the glorification of mental illness.

Cox talks about her ability to impact social media in a positive way. Although she may not be feeling very positive one day, she knows that other individuals who are struggling will need an extra boost to their confidence. 

“I try to spread as much positivity as possible on social media,” Cox said. “Somebody else might need to see it as well, and that could very well turn their day around if they are struggling.”