A new perspective on mental health with Abraham Sculley


Abraham Sculley poses with Director of Student Life Lisa Shumard-Shelton in the Luthor Student Center. Image retrieved from Instagram @abrahamsculley.

Audra Gullquist, Layout and Design Editor

On March 2, the Student Activity Board (SAB) presented an event at Laker Point called “Eradicating Mental Health Stigma.” Inspirational speaker Abraham Sculley spoke during this event about his personal struggles with mental health and the stigma surrounding the idea of getting help for mental health issues. 

This event was presented per students’ request. The students of Lake Land College (LLC) felt as though recognizing the stigma and need for taking care of their mental health was necessary. The large crowd that showed up to the event showed how much college students need mental health care and advice. 

Sculley is a motivational speaker, author and co-author of three books, podcaster, mental health advocate, founder of Speaks 2 Inspire and Active Minds speaker. During his event he gave advice on how to view mental health issues in a new perspective. He stated that he was raised by immigrant Jamaican parents and it was not routine to seek help for mental issues. So after he graduated high school and moved 700 miles away from his hometown Miami, Florida to Pensacola, Florida, he began to struggle mentally. 

Sculley tells how he wasn’t eating or sleeping, and had no motivation. He was skipping his college classes but didn’t know what was wrong. He was even shutting people out. He couldn’t gain the strength to open up to anyone until his best friend called him and said “I’m not hanging up until you tell me what is wrong.” She told him what he was going through sounded like depression and she suggested counseling. However, he did not act upon her suggestion for another two weeks.

“I had to fight the stigma,” Sculley stated. He had to deflect all the lies he was told about mental illness. He listed a few of the lies he was told growing up as “Depression is a sign of weakness,” and “I can pray depression away.” The truth is that depression is a disorder that can not be neglected because one is too scared to seek help. It will not go away on its own. Sculley believed that if he prayed hard enough and if it did not go away then there was something wrong with him or his faith. When in reality, the only problem was the education system that did not teach us about mental health issues and how to combat them. Sculley shared a quote that he found important from Les Brown: “Ask for help. Not Because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong.”  

In order to combat our mental health issues we must become self aware of how we are feeling. We can’t lie to ourselves, we must allow ourselves to feel and express those feelings. Sculley stated that “we lie to ourselves so much it’s hard to know what’s true.” He also said we must be transparent and honest with ourselves. 

In Sculley’s battle with mental health, journaling helped him recognize his feelings and channel his negative thoughts. He has been journaling now for four or five years. He also started eating better and exercising more; although it sounds cliche, when you put good into your body, you feel good. He also shared that creating a routine and practicing mindfulness and gratitude helped him a lot. 

If you are struggling with mental health issues, do not be ashamed to go talk to a therapist or someone you can trust. If there is one thing we can all learn from Sculley’s visit, it is that seeking help does not make you weak. To talk to a counselor at Lake Land College visit: Counseling Services – Lake Land College.

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