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BEING a zine on mental health Presented by Encounters Magazine


Letter to the

REA DER Dear Reader, Mental health looms all around us. Frequently it is invisible and underlies the mechanics of so much that persist around us. Our ideas of what makes someone healthy or happy have radically changed in the past few decades as we’ve become more aware of the reach of mental health into all corners of our lives. For those not suffering from mental health issues, we become aware of ways in which we can support those around us and be more sensitive. For those who do suffer from any mental health issues, we become shockingly aware of the reality that we are not at all alone. Through the course of putting this publication together, we sought to continue expanding on an inclusive and aware-driven narrative of mental health. It is undeniably such a large part of all of our lives in how we function and develop relationships — by continuing to showcase these facts, we hope that our readers think more carefully about the ways in which they consider their own mental health as well as that of others. I would like to extend my warmest thanks to all the contributors who helped bring this publication to life. Each one of you came together and made something beautiful and driven by your own passion — it is this quality that has truly made this publication great. I would also like to thank my executive board members: Britt Molloy, Brandon Paillere, Esther Wong, Sarah Miskin and David Betancur. I could not have asked for a more dedicated or passionate team and I’m blessed that you all gave me your time and talent to constantly create something new and stunning. And, finally, I thank you, reader. When the deadline presses on and our work is at its hardest, it’s you who gives us the fight and energy to keep pushing on and make something great. Thank you.

Bianca Nitta V. Monteiro



eople who live with mental illnesses are no less than those who do not. Yet they are constantly outcasted with labels and stigma by various members of society. Communities of individuals who are working on bettering themselves are farequently mocked, ridiculed, and sometimes even attacked in their homes, schools, and workplaces. What can be an already scary experience for some is made worse by the demeaning stigma that is reinforced in society. This discourages people who are dealing with a mental illness from seeking help and treatment. That is why it is crucial to acknowledge the problem at hand. The problem is not one’s own mental illness, it is the stigma surrounding our mental health. We hope to address this issue in each one of these pages as we open people’s minds to the truth about the chastising stigma and to encourage others to reach out for help in treating their mental health.

C O N V E R S A T I O N S K A T H E R I N E H E R N Ă N D E Z illustration by BIANCA NITTA V. MONTEIRO

Often directly associated with mental illnesses, mental health has been wrongly perceived as a marker of weak, unstable mental capacity. In reality, it is the maintenance and upkeep of a person’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health. Many communities within our society today gloss over discussing mental health; the consequences of which are seen in different cases of mental illnesses and disorders that are left undiagnosed or properly acknowledged. From some religious institutions to some LGBTQ+ communities and to the homes of veterans and immigrant communities and beyond, the missing discussion has bred an unmindfulness of mental health issues.

“It’s a dangerous situation to be in because

mental health issue to that process then

the actions and conducts of these pastors

that mental issue becomes accented and

affects the actions and tribulations that

is expressed even more in certain cases.”

arise in a another person’s life,” said Paula Hernández, a mental health counselor and

Hernández likens mental health issues

pastor of Yo Creo Ministries. Paula spoke

and treatments to physical maladies in

to the different themes and problems that

that they are both issues that have their

overlap within the mental health field and

proper diagnosis and treatments.

feels that religious communities have a responsibility to their people to educate

“When you have a stomach ache or a

themselves in the field of mental health in

migraine, you take a painkiller or some

order to serve them better.

kind of medicine. It’s no different here, but people need to be educated as to

“By not knowing these things and not

what they must take and receive as a way

being knowledgeable of this area as a

to better their quality of life.”

pastor, as a leader, you can misguide people into not taking their medications

She pointed out the change in the

because of belief that ‘God can do the

population of people suffering from

impossible. And amen, He can, but the


education must be in recognizing these

as depression, anxiety and suicide.

disorders not as illnesses but as conditions

Hernández says that as of 10 years ago,

that one must learn to live with.”

studies showed that it was 60- to 70-year-





old adults that suffered the most from Hernández works primarily with the

these issues, a demographic that has


now changed to adolescents, teenagers,




American countries and has seen how

and young adults.

the immigrant experience and the mental health world intersect.

“Children between the ages of 11 and 16 are at the stage of development where

“The principle problem is assimilation,”

they’re questioning and figuring out



their identities and find themselves

immigrates they enter into a process of




falling into this issue of suicide,” said

assimilation that can be traumatic for

Hernández. “Even more prevalent in

some, especially for children. We see that

this generation, specifically in those of

adjust to a new language, a new school, a

the older bunch, is the abuse of drugs as

new system — all of this is stressful. And

a coping mechanism for the stress and

when you add an already underlying

internal struggles that they face.

A factor that leads to even more mental

the the time to clarify certain stereotypes and


stigmas that surround the conversation of mental health and veterans.

Hernández highlighted that these issues were more prevalent in minority communities and

“Not all veterans have PTSD or mental

households where the level of knowledge

health issues for that matter,” she said.

regarding these areas of mental health are

“There is no direct relationship between

very low.

veterans and all mental issues but there is does exist a connection between PTSD and

“We want to bring a light to those areas

veterans due to the circumstances that they

because a lot of these Hispanic homes need

have been exposed to. If a veteran expresses

to understand the emotional situations that

other mental health issues then it’s usually

their youth are in is. They see slitting their

because that issue was present even before

wrists and abusing drugs as a way to alleviate

the PTSD was developed; however, PTSD

themselves from whatever issues their going

is a large umbrella under which a lot of sub-

through, as a mode of coping with the

issues manifest.”

pressures and stress of being exposed to a culture that is not their own.”

Hernández further dispelled the myth that PTSD is something that solely affects

When asked Hernández to speak about

veterans. “This doesn’t just relate to war,

the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

but someone who has suffered through a

(PTSD), a mental disorder that is mainly

traumatic event can have this disorder,” she



said. “If someone went through a terrible

Hernández pointed out that the disorder



car accident and was traumatized by it, they

doesn’t have a designated time or trigger that

might express those symptoms of PTSD next

makes the illness manifest itself.

time they get in a car or think about driving.”

“It’s an issue that is receiving some attention

In this same light, LGBTQ+ communities

because of all of the veterans and individuals

and people of color who have suffer ed

who are expressing symptoms in recent

through traumatic experiences as a result

years,” said Hernández. “A person can come

of prejudices and racism could also develop

back from war and the problem can manifest

this disorder should they be exposed to

itself maybe 10 years after they’re back. The

something traumatic to them. When asked

good thing about this is that there a lot of

about the intersection between these

services and programs available to veterans

communities and mental health, Hernández

to help them and their families aliviate and

pointed out that counselors do not treat a

process their issues.” Hernández took

person based on their sexual identity.

“It’s just an individual that is going through their stress or problems,” said Hernández. “You’re going to provide the services based on what that person needs. Any mental health situation you have is not connected to sexual orientation or race.” While mental health issues are separate from sexual orientations and race, according to Hernández, she does recognize the lack of services and efforts being made to address the issues of these specific communities. “Nowadays I see counselors working to be more sensitive to the fact that it is a community that needs support. We’re more educated and more aware of the situations that they’re in than before.” There is such a lack of knowledge and awareness in today’s society about topics of mental health and counselors like Hernández are determined to help push that awareness into the mainstream light by providing and making services known to all communities. “We’re learning,” said Hernández. “We’re always learning and trying, and that’s all we can do.”








Conversations With

Jade Zabric by Kyrah Brown photos by Brielle Tumbarello

JADE ZABRIC is a Baruch College

student by day, but by night she shines on the streets and subways of NYC, capturing the hearts of city dwellers one guitar chord at a time. Under the guise of her talents, Jade, born Amanda Jade Aguilar, identifies as a Texan and a dignified young veteran. Yet, Jade’s earliest years were met with mental health struggles, which took shape during her time in the United States Air Force. Prospective militants join with a certain mindset, understanding that the standards of work are nothing short of fortitude, order, and perfection. Jade’s mentality was no different; however, physical and mental exhaustion from an overload of work and stress quickly prompted visits to the clinic. Jane worked a 40 hour week in the finance department, while undergoing rigorous daily trainings and additional duties such as renovation on the weekends. Clinicians gave her antidepressants, which provided increased focus and mental relief. Due to the ease of attainability and the commonality of strenuous conditions, most of Jane’s unit was on antidepressants. Often, medication and brief conversations with psychiatrists were an escape from drawn-out therapy sessions.












Very few women were in Jade’s unit, but the disparity was motivating. She enjoyed the extra attention and there was limited room for competition. More notably, a short spanned marriage in the military was subsequent to Jane’s realization that she identified as lesbian. As Jane was adjusting to her new identity, the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was still in effect. The rule legally barred gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from having open homosexual relationships. One of the best times of her life was overshadowed by worry and stress with individuals trying to distastefully expose her sexual orientation, and with the added anxiety of not being able to express herself.

Alone and divorced at 23, Jade decided to venture to NYC. Transitioning out of the military can be a difficult experience, especially in an unwelcoming environment. Veterans transition from on-site support and accessible networks, to smaller support systems and less immediate attention. A loss of appetite, weight, and on the verge of a mental breakdown; Jane fainted during her time at NYU. Briefly staying at the Veterans Affairs hospital, she regained that lost attention and support she had in the military. She quit school and began making a living off of busking – performing on the streets for tips – where should found a healthy outlet for attention, and has been playing ever since. Today, she equates her life with freedom and stress-free environments. Currently studying Management of Musical Enterprises, her music journey corresponds to her newfound happiness and healthy mindset. Jade is an encouragement to other veterans looking to bury the stigma around mental health in the military and beyond.








Conversations With

Hassan Wilson by Essence Wilson My father, like many others, was a victim of the system. This is not to say he didn’t do the crime, but the trauma that follows a prison sentence cannot be ignored. To better understand the effects of serving prison time, I decided to interview my father about his own experience and what it was like to be incarcerated for so long — eleven years to be exact. I remember growing up as a child in a one-parent household, where my mother worked constantly and her mother (my grandmother) stepped in and did everything else. My brother was the closest I had to a father figure — not because our father had walked out of our lives, but rather he was incarcerated and sent away from us. However, just as vividly, I remember loading into a car with my little sister (his biological daughter) and my mother with my older brother at the wheel on March 14th, 2017 to then drive eight miles upnorth through a single-digit degree snowstorm to embrace my father upon his release. “It’s definitely a big change because, you know, you’re far away from home and pretty much incarcerated, pretty much can’t go anywhere,” my father says in response to the length of his sentence. Still, it never discouraged him or made him lose faith. When I asked what kept him going for so long his answer was simple: family.








“Visits from time to time, seeing my children, seeing my wife, that maintained me from going crazy.” Later as we spoke, my questions started to cross into mental health. Although my father doesn’t suffer from mental illness, his time in prison had made him a lot more aware on mental disturbance, especially in light of long prison sentences. “I’ve ran across a few people, actually a lot — there’s definitely a lot of people who are incarcerated who are mentally challenged. I’ve gave out advice to certain people I came across, you know, like ‘hold your head,’ ‘read more,’ and of course the officers could definitely be doing more than they are now,” said Hassan. I found it interesting that my father mentioned reading, but then I realized it made perfect sense. Reading and writing has always been a safe haven for my father and I and we both hope to make something our writing. For him, there is value in reading. “I think that reading will - see for me I read so I think it calms your nerves, and if it’s something that you’re actually interested in, it calms your mind,” and I couldn’t agree more.







As our conversation grew deeper, it became more personal. I asked if he felt people ever underestimated his feelings, both because he’s been in prison but also because he is a man — a black man, living in a society meant to regard him as hard, malicious, and without feeling. He agreed with my analysis. Despite serving as much time as he did, he feels like he has to remind the system and society that “Of course we’re emotional, we all emotional, male and female, so yeah, I feel like some people could really listen more to an individual who has did a lot of time, such as myself.” I couldn’t help but wonder if I could do more listening to him on my part. We then talked a bit about what, aside from correctional officers in prison, the government could be doing for people suffering from mental illness. My father prompts, “for starters, there’s a lot of homeless people suffering from mental illness, and I think with all these new buildings across NY state, or even across the United States, they’re not building enough shelter for the homeless.”

“These people are out here on the streets, and because they’re not getting treatment, they’re doing things that could lead them to being in prison,” repeating a tireless and toxic cycle.

But even then, we agreed some homeless people would rather be on the streets than in a shelter because shelter conditions are so terrible. “They need to hire more people,” and more importantly people who care.

w i t h

i n c a

The stigma, surrounding homeless people, inmates, and other outcasts of society is tremendous. My father described it as people looking at him like he doesn’t care about life, others’ lives and being seen as extremely ignorant. “Oh because you committed a robbery, that you have no feelings and you would just rob anybody.” To counter this hatred though, my father calmly suggests just speaking to them: “Sit down and have a conversation with that individual. Get to know him, or her.”

“I’m not the monster they panned me out to be in my paperwork. I’m loving, caring, not just for my family but outside of my family, like homeless people. I see them people holding the door in McDonald’s, I see them people with their cardboards that need something to eat, and I drop change in their cup. It’s a blessing.” It’s the little things that count.

r c e r a t i o n



P SY C H O S I S When she isn’t at school or at one of her three jobs, Rachelle is either clearing her mind with a stroll under the foliage at Riverside Park or creating music to help block her psychotic episodes. What would you say to someone who is afraid to get diagnosed with a mental illness? “Understand that I’ve been in your position. It’s better to tackle the issue head on than to keep it hiding in the back of your mind because it will only keep on




coming back worse and worse every time. has

Don’t be afraid of the stigma. Don’t be

experienced much trauma since she

afraid of people’s opinions. Accepting

was a child, from the loss of a loved one

this diagnosis, and even scheduling

to intense conflict within her family.

an appointment to see if you have a

Although Rachelle was just diagnosed at

problem, is one step towards fulfilling

the age of 14, she has lived with major

yourself, being at peace with yourself, and

depressive disorder and generalized

being able to not have any obstacles on

anxiety disorder for most of her life. She

your path to success.”

was then diagnosed with psychosis at 16. Her late diagnoses were due to fear of how those close to her would react. Rachelle still took that step forward and was able to break out of her shell to truly accept herself. Despite the fact that she refuses to take the prescribed medicine, Rachelle finds treatment in other ways.


BIPOLAR DISORDER his way back to his parents, Jeremy decided that he needed immediate help and talked to one of the police officers at JFK airport. After weeks on Rikers Island following an incident in a hospital, Jeremy finally received the treatment he needed, graduated with his associate’s degree from Queensborough Community College, is now attending Columbia University, and is currently working on a book detailing his life story. What would you say to someone who is Photo by DAVID BETANCUR

unsure about getting treatment?

JEREMY WAHL was diagnosed with

“What’s been helpful for me is that

bipolar disorder when he was 11 years

you can talk to a doctor without them

old. It didn’t help his cause that Jeremy

shoving medication down your throat,

was moving around a lot, following his

without them forcing you to come back.

father who was a music minister, and

You have control over what you do, so

during his teenage years, he lived with

you can always learn. There’s nothing

crippling depression. After acing online

wrong with learning. If you just want

learning during his middle school and

to inquire like, ‘Hey, what do you think

high school years, Jeremy chose to go to

is wrong with me?’. There’s no harm in

college in Minnesota. After 4 semesters

asking for someone’s opinion. If you

of constant turmoil, he was kicked

can think about it as mental health

out and pursued a career in media

being part of medical health, that can

consulting. Jeremy struggled to make

help, because it really is. The people

ends meet and constantly travelled,

that prescribe you medication, they’re

couchsurfing and living in the streets,

doctors and they’re psychiatrists, not the

until he came to New York. Initially, on

other way around.”


ANXIETY DISORDER What would you say to someone who is afraid to get treatment? “It’s scary. A diagnosis can be really stigmatizing especially certain diagnoses but it can also really help in understanding and provide a community of other people experiencing the same cluster of experiences. No two people who have the same diagnosis are going to have the same experience but it can be a first step in understanding what’s going on for you but also you get to decide how much or Photo by DAVID BETANCUR

how little help you want and what spaces. If a diagnosis is something that you’re not

RACHEL CAMERON loves helping

interested in, that does need to happen

others. Rachel grew up with lots of

for you to receive care, and we do live in

friends and family who have also

a world where mental care is stigmatized,

experienced severe mental health issues,

but hopefully by people doing stuff like

which resulted in her having to minimize

this and talking about what’s going on

her own struggles and focusing more on

it becomes less stigmatized. The way to

caring for around her. As a result, Rachel

make it less stigmatized is to not be afraid

learned the necessary steps to take

to ask for help and to ask for help in ways

care of herself, which include: taking

you feel safe so if you feel safe talking to a

medication, following a routine of self-

specific person, talk to that person.”

care activities, and acknowledging that she has an anxiety disorder. She is now working to get her master’s in social work to become a professional therapist.

Mental Health and Wellness Resources illustration by BIANCA NITTA V. MONTEIRO

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Languages: English, Spanish

NAMI Staten Island location NAMI NYC Staten Island 930 Willowbrook Road Building 41-A Staten Island, NY 10314 (718) 477-1700 http://www.namistatenisland. org/

NAMI Harlem Location 2280 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10030 (212) 694-6235

NAMI New York City Metro Serving: Bronx County, Brooklyn, Kings County, Manhattan, and New York County Contact Person: Matt Kudish Phone: (212) 684-3365 Email: Email: Website: HelpLine: (212) 684-3264 (10:00am - 6:00pm, MondayFriday)

NAMI Conexion (en español) NYC Well chats Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin/Cantonese

Free to call, text or chat online with a professional in full confidentiality. Call: 1-888-NYC-WELL Text: “WELL” to 65173 Chat: NYC Well offers information and a PDF on how to get Naloxone for free at various locations in NYC: https: //

The Door Manhattan Location (ages 12-24) 555 Broome Street New York, NY 10013 Main: (212) 941-9090 Various extension numbers found here:

South Bronx Location (ages 16-24) 424 East 147th Street The Bronx, NY 10455 212-941-9090 ext. 3522

Hetrick Martin Institute (ages 13-24) 2 Astor Place New York, NY 10003 212-674-2400

The Institute for Family Health Manhattan Location: 230 West 17th Street New York, NY 10011 (212) 206-5200 Behavioral Health Fax: (212) 206-5277

Bronx Location: 1894 Walton Avenue Bronx, NY 10453 Main: (718) 583-3060 Center for Counseling: (718) 5832508 health-care/services/behavioralhealth/

Baruch’s Counseling Center 137 East 25th Street 9th Floor, Room 914 New York, NY 10010 Please note that due to repairs the building entrance has been temporarily relocated to 138 East 26th Street. Phone: (646) 312-2155 Email: For those of you who prefer alone-time to recharge, here are some apps (most are free to download) to keep up your mental health: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

New York State HOPEline: 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) toll-free hotline for assistance with alcoholism, drug abuse, and/or problem gambling

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 Helps veterans who are experiencing PTSD, anxiety, loneliness, and/or suicidal thoughts. Connects callers with qualified responders, many of who are also veterans themselves.

CREDITS Encounters Magazine would like to thank the following talented writers and artists for contributing to “BEING”

FEATURED WORKS “Conversations” “Conversations with Jade Zabric”

written by Katherine Hernandez written by Kyrah Brown photos by Brielle Tumbarello

“Conversations with Hassan Wilson”

written by Essence Wilson

“Recovery: You are More Than Your Diagnosis”

written by David Betancur photos by David Betancur




Bianca Nitta V. Monteiro

Mitchell Kim Samantha Salanga Sarah Miskin

MORE ABOUT ENCOUNTERS MAGAZINE Encounters Magazine is Baruch College’s leading arts & Literary Publication. Its mission since 1993 has been to exclusively serve Baruch artists and writers, allowing them a space on campus to grow and shocase their work.

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Encounters Magazine presents "Being," a zine full of conversations surrounding mental health. This production consists of professional input...


Encounters Magazine presents "Being," a zine full of conversations surrounding mental health. This production consists of professional input...