Stop the Stigma – Local psychiatrist offers annual scholarship

January 2023 Posted in Your Health

By Melissa Wagoner

Normalizing mental health challenges has long been a priority of Audry Van Houweling, a Nurse Practitioner and owner of She Soars Psychiatry in Silverton and Sisters, Oregon. 

“[M]ental health is not something that happens in the silos of healthcare offices,” Van Houweling said. “Many of us feel pressured to compartmentalize and do our best to conceal our struggles. If there are not safe places to emote in authenticity, it can be exhausting and really heavy.”

This can also be true, not only for those suffering with mental health issues, but for those close to them as well. 

“We have all been touched on a personal level by mental illness…” Van Houweling confirmed. Adding, “We can do better.”

Which is why she created the Stop the Stigma Scholarship, a $2,500 allotment destined to help two graduating seniors – one from Silverton and one from Sisters – as a way of encouraging a younger generation endeavoring to both improve the future of mental health care and decrease the stigma of seeking help. 

“My hope is that the mission of the scholarship will inspire students to take inventory of their own challenges, ask for help, work towards radical responsibility, and be an advocate for others facing emotional challenges,” Van Houweling said. Adding, “The art of asking for help is central to our wellness and resilience.”

Open to individuals planning to attend an accredited college, university or trade school in the fall of 2023 with the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in healthcare, social work or education, the scholarships will be awarded by a five-person panel of healthcare and education-based professionals.  

“I am most looking forward to hearing about future aspirations, stories of resilience, and the innovative ways young people can approach existing stigma and the accessibility of mental health,” Van Houweling said.

Because these are more than just scholarships to Van Houweling. They are the beginning of an important conversation. 

“In some ways, I think this generation of young people is among the most educated and aware of mental health issues, which coincides with more willingness to seek help,” she said. “This is in many ways encouraging, but young people are also up against a lot of social pressures…”

Which is why Van Houweling thinks the Stop the Stigma Scholarship is so important, not only as a way of encouraging two individual seniors but the future of mental healthcare in the community at large. 

“I am indebted to the communities of Silverton and Sisters for their support over the years,” Van Houweling said. “I saw a scholarship as a way to give back and honor future generations.”

Stop the Stigma Scholarship

Opportunity available to graduating seniors of Silverton High Schools with an interest in improving mental health outcomes for future generations and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health care.

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