Photojournalism: Send Help!

My next blog will consist of photojournalism. This has always been a form of journalism that has intrigued me. Experiences are my favorite part of life, hence why I enjoy traveling so much. Capturing photographs of both beauty and tragedy can tell more of a story than a thousand words.

I honestly have no idea what exactly I am going to do my project on though. I have a few different ideas. One is based on the reasons to stay alive. I would take photos of my child, nature, live music and other positive moments in life. Another idea is highlighting the seven deadly sins; those being envy, pride, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. Lastly, my other idea could be Halloween themed. This would be from trick-or-treating all the way to adult Halloween parties that start after candy stops being passed out. I would love advice and suggestions on which of my ideas seems like something that would interest you all.


World Mental Health Day

Your Story is Important. Hope is Real, Help is Real.

About 1 in 5 adults experience mental health conditions each year. United States’ suicide rate per year has increased to 13.26 per 100,000 individuals. This being nearly 30,000 individuals each year.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental illness is defined as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. This most commonly affects a person’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. It is crucial that symptoms are noticed early on and support is provided to increase the likeliness of recovery. Some common signs of mental illness are excessive worrying or fear, feeling excessively sad or low, extreme mood changes, changes in sleeping and eating habits, substance or alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide.

There are more than 200 different types of mental disorders. Amongst those, the most common are: Clinical depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism.

Each mental illness has different symptoms and treatment options from another. Even people with the same diagnosis will have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There are three main treatment types for mental illnesses: Psychotherapy, psychosocial treatments and medications. Psychotherapy is when a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills. This is commonly referred to as “talk therapy.” Types of psychotherapy include: Cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, interpersonal therapy, metallization-based therapy, psychodynamic therapy and the use of therapy pets. The second treatment type is psychosocial which includes different types of psychotherapy and social and vocational training. The aim is to provide support, education and guidance to people with mental illness and their families. This can lead to fewer hospitalizations and less difficulties at home, at school and at work. Types of psychosocial treatments are psychotherapy, psychoeducation, self-help and support groups, psychosocial rehabilitation and assertive community treatment. Most medication treatment plans typically consists of pills or capsules, taken daily. Although, some can also be available as liquids, injections, patches or dissolvable tablets. Different types of medication vary based on the mental illness. Someone who experiences psychosis would take antipsychotics. Antidepressants are prescribed for people experiencing depression. There are also anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers. Treatment plans often overlap one another and aid the other treatments.

A major self-help organization is To Write Love On Her Arms. They are a non-profit organization designed to spread awareness and provide resources to help those who struggle with mental illnesses. They stress that hope and help are both real. Among different facts about mental health that they list on their website, they provide local treatment centers and hotlines around the world.

If you or anyone you know has a mental illness, it is important to get help. In regards to a crisis, there are national hotlines with trained professionals to talk you through it. National hotlines are listed below:


National Hopeline Network

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273-8255

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
24-hour Chat:
24-hour Chat (Español):

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ)

Treatment Referral Hotline
(Substance Abuse)



Service Journalism

Service journalism serves as consumer-oriented advice or research. So this paper will be for your benefit. I plan on doing my service journalism project on research studies. Personally, I find mental illnesses interesting and think that more people should be knowledgeable about them. This is also relevant because September is Suicide Awareness Prevention Month. Suicide and suicidal thoughts runs heavily among the majority of different mental illnesses. Having dealt with mental illnesses myself and having been surrounded by others who also have various mental illnesses, I feel that I could highlight the treatments that may or may not work as well as others. In my paper, I will also define and outline what exactly a mental illness is, along with what different types of mental illnesses there are. I look forward to learning even more about different mental health case studies, as well as being able to share my findings with all of you.

Standing on the Blue Line with a Purple Heart

Benjamin Blair, 30, went from risking his life globally, to risking his life locally on a daily basis in order to protect his community and keep food on his family’s table. From front lines in Afghanistan to blue lines in America, this man is proud to have served his country and his community. Beyond being a devoted family man, Blair is a U.S. Army veteran and currently a police officer.

The NJROTC program at his high school encouraged him to join the Army in 2004. As a combat engineer, Blair was faced with many dangerous tasks such as: working with explosives, breached obstacles, and searching for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). This lead to his bittersweet downfall as a soldier, as well as his up rise as a police officer.

On a mission where Blair was the squad leader, he and his alpha team leader were clearing a culvert for an IED when it blew up in their faces. “I got a Purple Heart for that one,” Blair said as he grinned and slightly chuckled. This mission may have ended his military career, but it opened a whole new chapter of his life. The military helped him with discipline, duty, honor and respect. All of which he believes are the core values of being a police officer.

Growing up, both of Blair’s parents were drug addicts. He dreamt of being a police officer as a little kid because he wanted to be nothing like either of his parents. He always knew that he wanted to do productive things in the world, “I have always believed that I was meant to give back instead of being a lazy taker.”

When Blair made the transition into his civilian life, he became a narcotic investigator and a detective. He had to pull kids out of poor living situations, similar to his own while growing up. Most of the kids he had to pull away from drug and crime stricken homes time and time again as they were placed in and out of the foster system.

Now Blair has a family of his own. A loving wife named Ashley, along with a beautiful 3-year-old daughter named Aisley. Everything he does is for them, but it is a shock that he has been able to stay alive as long as he has. He even stated, “I have been in many gun fights and done things that I should have died doing, but I’m still here for a reason I haven’t found yet.”

Why did I choose him?

Benjamin Blair that is… I chose to Interview him because in a world on the brink of chaos, we need more people like him. Most people use the military to work towards other careers or to continue schooling. Some even stay in for twenty years and retire from the military. This man chose to go from risking his life for our country, to still risking his life for his community. Not only does that show bravery, but it shows dedication and perseverance.

When deciding on who I should interview, I had no clue who I was going to choose. I took to my social media platforms and asked my followers who they thought would be interesting and worthy of a story. I scrolled past suggestions of musicians that I know and some other ordinary people. One of my friends said that they knew a police officer who lived in Oklahoma. Once I heard his story and some of the things that he had been through, I knew that he was the one. Sure, he was several states away and it seemed a little unattainable, but I was determined. I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in an interview via video chat. It may not be traditional, but I could see his expressions and the passion behind his answers. The biggest struggle was timing. He juggles a hectic job and a family, while I juggle a full course load of classes and a family. Once we finally decided on a date and time, hurricane Irma started posing a threat. Through trying to evacuate and then losing power for what is going on two days, I had to reschedule. I made a WiFi hotspot earlier today on my phone and connected my laptop to it in order to video chat Benjamin. Now, I am using the same method while writing this blog. It took longer than expected and I literally sweat through most of it, but the hassle was well worth it.

Planning out my interview with Benjamin Blair…

Benjamin Blair, 30, went from risking his life globally, to risking his life locally on a daily basis in order to protect his community and keep food on his family’s table. From front lines in Afghanistan to blue lines in America, this man is proud to have served his country and his community. Beyond being a devoted family man, Blair is a U.S. Army veteran and currently a police officer.

The full list of questions I plan on asking him:

  • When did you decide to join the military?
  • What was your job in the military?
  • What did you learn from being in the military?
  • What is your fondest memory in the military?
  • What made you decide to become a police officer?
  • How did the military help you transfer to your current job?
  • Could you tell me about any experiences that you have felt that your life was in danger?
  • How do you feel that you have impacted your community and society as a whole?

My soon to be interview with Benjamin Blair…

Some people go through life making no or very little impact in society. Others go out of their way to make a major and positive impact. Benjamin Blair is one of those people. After spending several years in the U.S. Army, he decided to enroll in the police academy to become a police officer. I believe that both service members and law enforcement are not only respectable, but selfless positions to hold in society. I admire these qualities vastly, which is why I chose to interview Ben Blair. I will be questioning him on his experiences in the military, along with his experiences as a police officer. Some of the questions that I will ask him are:

  • What did you learn from being in the military?
  • How did the military help you transfer to your current job?
  • How do you feel that you have impacted your community and society as a whole?