If Women Started Talking About Mental Health: Presented by Lauren Hackett

Content Warning: Eating Disorders

On Monday, March 6th, I attended Lauren Hackett’s speech on campus regarding women’s mental health. This event was presented by Alpha Sigma Tau as a panhellenic point for sororities on JMU’s campus. Lauren went into depth about her own mental health struggles, her experiences with eating disorders, chronic illness, and the overall struggle of finding your purpose and managing your life in your twenties. Through her struggles, she created her own store called Unfinished Apparel which creates custom clothing, in replace of uncomfortable paper scrubs, for children brought to psychiatric hospitals.

Lauren began her speech by presenting topics she wanted to touch upon: what would happen if women started talking about mental health, mental health and finding your purpose, and living with mental health in your twenties.

What Would Happen if Women Started Talking About Mental Health

Lauren began this conversation by discussing stages in her life and the lessons she learned from each of them in order to emphasize why women need to be more open to the conversations around mental health. She initiated the conversation by telling the audience about her middle school self and her first experiences with school anxiety. In the story she shared, Lauren was with her father trying to understand a homework problem when she thought she was having a heart attack, but her dad assured her it was just a panic attack, and that he too experienced them. Lauren went on to explain how important it was for her father to tell her that he experienced panic attacks too, and that she was not alone.

Lauren’s next experience with mental health was in high school. She revealed that it was her first time experiencing an eating disorder as well as her first confrontation with her changing body. Lauren disclosed that from a young age she developed bigger breasts than all of her classmates, leading her to research ways for them to become smaller. She found out that working out and dieting could possibly make them smaller. Unfortunately, this led her to the infamous My Fitness Pal app and she later developed anorexia.

Through Lauren’s journey with anorexia, she decided to share her story and struggles in her chapel during her senior year of high school. At first, she didn’t think her story had a profound impact. But for the next few weeks, girls she went to school with for the last 12 years reached out to her and thanked her for sharing her story because they were also struggling behind closed doors. As Lauren attended a small all-girls Catholic school, she first thought everyone knew everything about each other, but this proved to her that you never know what actually is going on in someone’s life. By sharing this story, Lauren emphasized that if women started talking about mental health and realize that they are not alone, the world will be a safer, more comfortable place for women, and that they will be unstoppable.

Mental Health and Finding Your Purpose in Your Twenties

During Lauren’s freshman year of college, COVID-19 hit, which brought new struggles and questions about her path in life. She shared that she suffered from a chronic illness as well as COVID-19, and didn’t believe she would survive. While her physical health was decreasing, so was her mental health. She explained that she would not have been able to survive without a community that supported her being open with her struggles. But during this time as she looked into psychiatric help, she learned that a majority of psychiatric centers take away the patients’ clothes, virtually the only thing they had left, and gave them uncomfortable paper scrubs. This inspired Lauren to create Unfinished Apparel in hopes for psychiatric centers and hospitals to stop putting up barriers to people who need help.

Overall, Lauren’s main message during this speech was to start talking about mental health and to be open to the conversations about it. Everyone struggles and everyone is impacted, so why ignore it? She also emphasized that mental health can help you find your purpose, lead you on the right path, and teach you important lessons. I also want to add something that stuck with me from Lauren’s speech, that “joy in recovery feels better than skinny every did”, and “to stop seeing mental health as a barrier from being loved”.

Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your story and being the influential woman I needed to hear from. I know that each and every woman in the room was impacted by your story and admired your strength.

2 thoughts on “If Women Started Talking About Mental Health: Presented by Lauren Hackett

  1. Great post, it sounds like an inspiring and open presentation! I also love Lauren’s sweatsuit she made in the highlighted Instagram post! Her idea of clothing acknowledging mental health is what will get people to start talking about it. Instead of avoiding the topic like we typically do in society.


  2. I LOVE her idea of Unfinished Apparel and it really goes to show that one person can definitely make a difference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s