A Voice at the Table Features

Inspiring Voices: self-care and positive mental health

Photo courtesy of Gabriella Melchiorre.

I had the pleasure to sit down with Gabriella Melchiorre, soon-to-be-graduating senior from East Stroudsburg Pennsylvania. From growing up in a family surrounded by strong, independent women, Melchiorre’s goal was to always remain focused and find better opportunities outside of East Stroudsburg. “College wasn’t an ideal choice for me, but the women in my family set high expectations and goals for themselves that I knew I wanted for myself.”

Majoring in early education and minoring in youth empowerment and urban studies, she plans to become a teacher in her own classroom one day. She elaborates, “My family keeps me motivated to become a teacher and follow my dream, especially my younger brother Thomas. I always try to set a good example for him.” She proves this by working two jobs, taking six classes, being president of her sorority Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority Inc. and being involved with LASO (Latino American Student Organization).

A topic important to college students and Gabriella is mental health. “It’s a serious topic that many college students don’t take into consideration going through their daily routine, and most of the time, it’s due to your support team around you. If you have people constantly telling you’re fine or get over it, then you won’t take your own mental health seriously,” says Melchiorre.

“‘It’s a serious topic, that many college students don’t take into consideration going through their daily routine, and most of the time it’s due to your support team around you. If you have people constantly telling you’re fine or get over it, then you won’t take your own mental health seriously’”

This idea about a support system is very true, as Melchiorre mentions the background you come from and your environment play a big part. Social media also plays a role, as she adds, “We get so caught up in other people’s lives that we think that’s the way we’re supposed to live, we spend hours scrolling and constantly comparing our life to something that’s not even the truth.” Mental health has grown in the minority community, being around that population most of her life, Melchiorre notices that “we have evolved when it comes to talking about mental health, depression, anxiety and the stress of college. A big reason is because we’re starting to let go of our pride. Often, we hold ourselves to this stigma that we have to always be mentally strong and have thick skin.” For self-care, Melchiorre mentions taking a break from your busy schedule for at least an hour. Melchiorre also enjoys walking into town, enjoying the nice weather and having time to relax and reflect.

“‘Never be afraid to speak up, I’ve missed out on opportunities before because I was afraid of what other people might think by not speaking up. Advocate for yourself, and what you believe in.”

For the new generation to come to West Chester, Melchiorre’s advice is to fight for the change you want, “Never be afraid to speak up. I’ve missed out on opportunities before because I was afraid of what other people might think by not speaking up. Advocate for yourself, and what you believe in.” Other advice would be to attend conferences and leadership opportunities. “I’ve been to a good amount of conferences over the years and they’ve all taught me something I could use in my career, involvement in my organizations and skills I could use for myself to grow as a person.”

Najah Hendricks is a third-year student majoring in social work. NH871270@wcupa.edu

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