How comic book villains inspired one student's mental health career path.


DC Comics may not be the first (or the second) thing to come to mind when talking about mental health but for one former LIFE student, Carissa Myung, the parallels were easy to see: "The creators of Batman shaped, sewed, and strung [together] the villains who had psychological disorders and mental illnesses. For example, Harley Quinn, who started off as a nurse, has a shared psychosis with the Joker; and King Tut, who had been an Oxford professor, had delusions of grandeur...What frustrated me is that the comics often didn’t portray them as the real people. Rather, they were put into asylums, not psychiatric hospitals, and what do you expect when you treat people inhumanely?"

Though the analogy may not be for everyone, it's hard to ignore the basic premise that mental illness is often misunderstood, "villainized", and so stigmatized as to be whispered about in the corner.  Carissa hopes to change all that and is majoring in cognitive science at UC Berkley. "I will either specialize in psychology or neuroscience and am specifically interested in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. I plan on doubling in Public Health as well...Turning my passion into advocacy for mental health and social work would be a dream come true. " 

 Carissa Myung

Carissa Myung

Carissa is no stranger to IHPC - she has involved herself with many IHPC programs including PharmDay, Sports Medicine Day, LIFE at Parkview Community Clinic, and most recently #Adulting BootCamp. "I saw the boot camp as a way to give myself a one up, per se, especially since my AP courses in high school didn't emphasize real-world skills.  It was at the boot camp that I learned soft skill development - from situational awareness to resume building. I’ve always done these things, but there’s a specific professional mindset I wasn’t tuned into, and the boot camp brought that into awareness."

Ms. Myung will be a college freshman this fall but is already active on campus. She has joined a community-minded group of young adults to form HOME (Health, Opportunities, Mind, and Education) which targets homelessness, mental health, education, and sustainable food. Having grown up in the Fontana/Rancho Cucamonga area, she plans to return to her native Southern California home upon graduation. After all, she's got a lot to do!

I want to shatter the glass ceiling and break the stigma within mental health. As they say in Active Minds*, “Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.” This perception is especially prominent within the Asian community. For people of color, those in the LGBTQ+ community, sexual assault survivors, these conversations are especially hard. Breaking down mental health...addressing gender and racial equality....I want to make lasting change. I know it’ll take past my lifetime... but I make it my goal to serve as a catalyst - a step towards the future.
— Carissa Myung

*Active Minds is the nation's premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students.