Intern and @pageantthreads blogger Monito chats with Miss California USA 2021 delegate Mary Malloy. The former Miss Rhode Island Teen USA is a mental health advocate and talks about fighting mental health stigmas, the coloring book she published in quarantine, and more.
Monito Power: Ok, so, Mary is a mental health advocate. Mary, would you tell us why mental health is something you want to raise awareness about and why it’s so special to you?
Mary Malloy: For the past few years I’ve considered myself a mental health advocate. While I was in college, I was a residential assistant, and a lot of my duties at Emerson College centered around helping students with mental health and any anxiety or panic attacks that may happen in the night. From there, I personally normalized mental health, and in college, it was super normal and there was no stigma around it for a lot of us. But it wasn’t really until the start of the pandemic where I was struggling with mental health a lot. In quarantine, a lot of people were faced with not their dark secrets but faced with seeing themself with who they naturally are. Everything that gave me a boost of serotonin was all taken away from me.
Mary: I decided to go to therapy but within my own inner circle, people were talking against it. They said things like “I would never go to therapy, I’m a strong person.” Those were things that rubbed me the wrong way and attributed to this stigma against mental health in the U.S. Going through that shame of just taking care of my mental health shouldn’t happen and no one should go through it. That was really the spark that led me to create Millie’s Many Emotions and make my platform about mental [health] awareness.
Monito: Wow, right. It is surprising to hear that even in your circle, there were people who were against therapy but of course, everyone is human and there is gonna be something that knocks them down at some point and they’d need help for that. There should be no shame in getting that help. That’s a wonderful way to talk about the stigmas there are… God, you’re a good speaker!
Mary: Thank you so much! Haha. I studied journalism and in all honesty, you could’ve fooled me. You’re a great interviewer.
Monito: Now not saying past advocacies have been bad at raising awareness, but what are some mental health stigmas you want to see broken that others may not even touch on?
Mary: Well I think something that just needs to be talked about is that mental health is something everyone has, just like we have our physical health. You shouldn’t have to wait until you’re at your lowest of lows to seek help. I think we should normalize therapy even when you’re at your best because I don’t think people realize how important it is to have advice from someone looking at your life from an outside lens.
Monito: Thank you for bringing light to that. Tell me about your coloring book, Millie’s Mary- Millie’s Many Emotions. I said Mary Emotions because your name is Mary, whoops! That book is something so cool to me.
Mary: Haha! Gosh, I’ll say when I started going to therapy something I noticed a lot of my answers were “I don’t feel as bad when I’m performing on stage,” because I am an actor. She asked me, “Well, why don’t you try drawing?” I laughed in her face because I can’t draw a straight line or even color within the lines. Then I started writing and when I wrote a nursery rhyme, the idea came to me to write a children’s book.
Mary: I’m a very strong believer that teaching children strong messages will make them better leaders in the future. When I got the book finished, I was looking for an illustrator. I wanted to give children a tool that could help them practice mindfulness or grounding time. From an illustrated book, I pivoted to a coloring book that could help them practice that mindfulness. Today, it’s free for anyone to print out and give it to their children and they can also purchase it on Amazon.
Aside from her coloring book, the two discuss how people shouldn’t be labeled as ‘crazy’ due to their mental problems and that there is so much that can go on behind the scenes.
Monito: I once saw an e-post on social media talking about how we need to stop calling women crazy. But I also have heard people or even teachers calling others with mental illnesses crazy. How can we combat this?
Mary: Just the verbiage of the question where “oh, they’re crazy,” or teachers saying “oh, they had a bad day, they’re crazy.” Teachers, or anybody in a leadership position, have the power to correct their verbiage to be more mindful and empathetic towards their students. I remember being a teenager was so hard, you’re confused, you’re finding out who you are and teachers definitely should approach them with empathy instead of “ph, they’re crazy.” Like no, they’re not crazy, maybe there’s something going on at home or happening behind closed doors.