Transforming students from victims of
illness to champions of recovery
illness to champions of recovery
Hufsa Ahmad is a Pakistani-American, Muslim woman pursuing a Master of Social Work who lives with mental illness and has survived 3 suicide attempts. She has given 2 TEDx talks on mental illness and presented keynotes all around the U.S. Having transformed from a victim of her illness to a champion of recovery, she dedicates her life to helping other individuals with mental health diagnoses find treatment, recovery, and peace, as well as change the world’s view of mental health. She has served in the mental health field for 7 years as a social worker, advocate and Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled Board Vice-President. In addition, Hufsa is a rising standup comedian who has performed all over the country, including at Ice House and Flappers Clubs in LA and Laughlin Laughfest. She was featured on Signature Bits on Spotify and Amazon.
Hufsa first made her presence known five years ago as a volunteer for the NAMI Walk committee. She later brought her expertise of social media and led four or more of us through hours of blogging on mental illness. For the last two years, she has led a walk team that consistently was in the top teams for donations raised. For nearly 5 years, her efforts have made a major impact on NAMI Orange County. She’s worked at the Warmline as a Peer Mentor and taught Peer to Peer and Provider classes. She’s made countless speeches advocating for those living with mental illness and has played an important role in destigmatizing mental illness here in Orange County. Hufsa is just an excellent example of one person making a difference.
when delivering the Next Step Award
Relapse is Part of Recovery: Mental Illness in College
Through this hour-long storytelling and presentation, attendees will learn about the signs of mental illness, mental health resources, self-care strategies, and leave with a sense of hope and empowerment. Hufsa shares her recovery from co-occurring mental illness and alcohol abuse to demonstrate that the lowest points in our lives are opportunities for growth, and not times to be ashamed of. Her story applies to all college students given that she developed mental illness while she was at Harvey Mudd College pursuing her Bachelors of Chemistry. She details the trials of being a college student while experiencing mental health challenges and how she transformed from being a victim of her illness to a champion of recovery. This powerful presentation is followed by a Q&A presentation.
Stigma Smash!: Eliminating the Shame Surrounding Mental Illness
Mental illness is not the end-all. It is not something to be ashamed of. Most of all, recovery is possible. Attendees will walk away feeling empowered with a better understanding of mental illness, more positive views of people with mental illness, and knowledge of how to "stigma smash" (Hufsa’s signature phrase). Much like racism, sexism, transphobia, and Islamophobia, “stigma” is the mental health community’s word for the shame and discrimination associated with mental health challenges. In this hour-long interactive workshop, Hufsa teaches audiences how to combat stigma. She explains the Recovery Model, a new paradigm of viewing mental illness in a positive, hopeful, and empowering light. She describes Recovery Language, a way to actively change our language and shift our perceptions of people with mental illness. She shares her powerful story of overcoming self-stigma to view mental illness not as a deficit, but as a strength.
How to Share You Have Mental Illness (and How to Listen)
Attendees will learn how to self-disclose and how to respond when someone is self-disclosing. They will also learn the process for deciding whether to self-disclose. In this 30-60 minute workshop, Hufsa shares her personal experiences with self-disclosure and offers practical tips and guidance for the process of deciding whether to self-disclose (and to what degree). Conversely, Hufsa also discusses how to appropriate receive this information and be supportive. This program is perfect for: Individuals with mental health conditions, friends and family members of individuals with mental health conditions, and anyone who is not sure how to have a conversation about mental health.