Letter to Governor Brian Kemp
Regarding Mental Health Initiatives
Dear Governor Kemp,
My name is Cara Clements, and I am student at Emory University obtaining a B.A. in Media Studies from the College, as well as a B.B.A. in Marketing from Goizueta Business School. Additionally, I am the current reigning Miss Rome 2019 in the Miss America Organization.
If you are unaware, the Miss America Organization, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, is the nation’s leading advocate for women’s education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States, awarding millions of dollars annually in cash awards and in-kind tuition waivers. MAO is comprised of 51 licensed organizations, including all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and focuses on the empowerment of young women through scholarship and philanthropic service to others.
Over the past three years, I developed a social outreach campaign entitled “Be Your Own Beautiful”, which focuses on promoting positive mental health and the destigmatization of mental illness across the state of Georgia and the country. In conjunction with my campaign, I am excited to announce that I am now the published author of a new book centered around positive mental health: The Self-Care Journal. It is a resource for readers to focus on self-reflection in order to improve their overall happiness, quality of life, and ultimately increase positive mental health in their own lives. I included a copy of my self-published book with this letter as a testament to my dedication and devotion to mental health advocacy.
Some of the most exciting things I have been able to do for my social outreach campaign include, but are not limited to:
• Spoke about my platform at the Georgia State Capitol;
• Raised ~$3,000 for psychiatry and mental health services in Georgia;
• Partnered with Youth MOVE and NAMI at Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day at the Georgia State Capitol;
• Lobbied for funding to be instituted into Rome City Schools for mental health professionals.
As a product of the Georgia Public School system, I can personally attest to the lack of support and resources provided to students who may be struggling with mental health related challenges. Most schools have a "counseling" department, yet the majority of these said counselors are unequipped to aid students with anything other than their academic endeavors. How can the public school system proclaim that they adequately provide students with resources for success if so many of these same students feel unsupported, lost, and/ or hurt?
Offering resources in schools for teenagers and young adults to focus on their mental health is exponentially important. Nearly 25% of college students across the state of Georgia (and the nation) suffer from some type of mental illness, and I fully believe that if more tools and resources were available to students at a younger age (middle and high school, for example), less people would be included in that statistic.
The Georgia Department of Education has a "Health & Safety" Initiative in place at all public middle and high schools across the state, but how can a program claim to focus on "all aspects of students' health" if they refuse to promote one of the most vital aspects of overall health & happiness: mental health. As a student who struggled with a lot of personal, mental illness-related challenges while going to school, I would like to honestly say that I wish there would have been more resources available to help me. I did not feel as though any school I attended was adequately equipped to handle some of the difficult situations I faced, and as a result, I fully empathize with every student in the Georgia Public School system who feels unsupported, overlooked, or cast aside by the system they are engulfed in. We need to do more to support and discuss mental health and illness in the state of Georgia. It starts with a discussion.
With that being said, I fully appreciate and commend your active support of mental health awareness by proposing an extra $8.4 million to the Apex program. This is something that is thoughtfully necessary, and honestly, quite overdue. As I stated previously, I never once saw a community-based mental health provider in any of the public schools I attended in the state of Georgia, and my hope with your newly proposed Apex plan is that more of these specialists will be available across a wider, more vast portion of the state.
Given my love for mental health advocacy, as well as my personal connection to mental illness and mental health related challenges, I would love to be able to meet with you and discuss on a deeper, more intellectual level what your plans and ideas are for Georgia Public Schools and Apex. Additionally, I would appreciate the opportunity to voice my concerns personally, and connect to members of our state’s great legislation who make positive change happen.
I love the state of Georgia, and I love, even more, being able to help adolescents with something I struggled with for years: mental illness. I look forward to hearing from you, and being able to meet with you in person, Governor Kemp. Let’s do this together.
To read more of my social outreach campaign and the work I am doing, I invite you to visit my website at:
Miss Rome 2019
Emory University, Class of 2022
B.A. Media Studies; B.B.A. Marketing