Keep Oregon Well is a public advocacy campaign designed to reduce stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health, build a trauma-informed community, and give people the opportunity to learn more about mental health and stand with those struggling with theirs.
This ongoing volunteer spotlight blog series features some of the many caring, talented, passionate people it takes to spread the word about Keep Oregon Well throughout Oregon!
Keep Oregon Well Volunteer Spotlight on: Anna Mallery
Mental health matters to me because I know what happens when we ignore it.
I’ve always been troubled with problems that no one could see. I am someone who will never totally escape mental illness. Aside from having SAD (seasonal affective disorder) causing me to become depressed on a yearly, seasonal basis, I have experienced extreme trauma causing me long-lasting PTSD, and a host of other things such as anxiety and sporadic bouts of depression.
For those who cannot find help, are unable to find help, or don’t have the means to get help, anxiety can become completely crippling. Depression will kill. Past traumas will continue to make the present a living nightmare. Mental health matters to me because it is a crucial part of societal wellness. After receiving (and continuing to receive) help from my family, friends, and professionals, I realize how crucial being mentally well is- my ability to function in and contribute to society depend on me being mentally well. I am not alone in this! Many go without care, and their professional and personal lives suffer. Imagine if we eliminated mental health stigma and provided free services for people struggling with mental health ailments. Our world would be a completely different place- arguably, a higher functioning, happier, more productive utopia.
What initially made you want to volunteer with Keep Oregon Well or Trillium?
When I learned that Keep Oregon Well was a part of Trillium family services, no one could stop me from pouring my heart into my volunteer work with them! When I was younger, Trillium’s treatment program saved my life, supplying me with therapy and constant support. I was elated to learn that they had created a stigma awareness and reduction campaign. I’ve been at the receiving end of stigma since I can remember- I was always “too shy” (anxiety), to the point where peers made fun of me, and adults always worried about me. I also went through periods of sadness that were extremely isolating. Instead of being helped, I was often labeled and thought of as antisocial.
I wanted to volunteer with Keep Oregon Well to give back. I received a lot of support from various community sources when I was younger, and they were ultimately what helped me survive through my very poor mental health and bombardments of stigma. I just want to do good and help people. This is one of the ways I’m giving back.
My favorite volunteer experiences have centered around the Portland Children’s Museum. It’s always fascinating to hear children talk about their thoughts on mental health. It’s invaluable to think that we’re educating a younger generation about the importance of mental wellness. My hope is that maybe, in their adult lives, caring for mental health won’t be so taboo.
Occasionally I will encounter someone who will thank me for what I do while at an advocacy event. I always tell them I’m just a part of the movement. Anyone and everyone can be involved. These experiences are touching because you can see the impact you’ve made on someone in such a short interaction- they see that we understand the issue. We care. We can see the crippling effects of stigma on mental health awareness, even when it seems like the greater society cannot. We are working on transformation! These are the interactions that prove to me that I’m changing the world.
Keep Oregon Well is centered around wellness and self-care. Tell us about some of the ways you take care of yourself.
My two favorite self-care activities are journaling, and exercise. For exercise, I like to dance, lift weights, practice one of my martial arts, run, bike- you name it! Moving has always been a calming, productive way for me to work through just about anything. Journaling is extremely important in helping me process and remember my day, as well as helping me work through thoughts on paper. I also like to draw, do yoga, read, and talk to family or close friends for support and advice.
To close our chat today, do you have a favorite quote you would be willing to share?
When I spoke at my high school graduation ceremony, I used a quote that sums up my past five years of mental health recovery- “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Is there anything you would add?
I want to graciously thank all of our other volunteers, all of the people we’ve met while advocating for mental health awareness, and all of the staff who organize and facilitate our events. It is because of my past that in my future, I want to help those who struggle with mental health issues, and Keep Oregon Well has aided in fueling my passions. Not only do I want to end stigma, I want to end mental illness and help those who are suffering with any number of ailments. When I start college next year, I want to study the brain in hopes of finding the roots of some of the most devastating mental illnesses.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to fight for what I love! #KeepOregonWell!