My name is Hufsa (pronounced Huff-suh), and my life is dedicated to helping individuals with mental health diagnoses find the treatment and support they need in order to thrive. Having transformed from a victim of my illness to a champion of recovery, I dedicate my 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.
For my efforts, I won the Mental Health Association Hope & Courage Award, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Next Step Award, and many other accolades. I have served in the mental health field for 5 years as an advocate, educator, speaker, peer mentor, case manager, supervisor, Mental Health Services Act Steering Committee member, and Dayle McIntosh board member. I am currently a graduate student at California State University, Long Beach in the Master’s of Social Work program, and received a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College. I also believe that humor is a powerful tool for social change, thus I try to incorporate it in my life and work.
I have delivered over 50 presentations and speeches on mental health, including at the Meeting of the Minds conference and keynote speaker for the Girl Scouts of Orange County. Speaking to smash stigma is my heart’s calling and I have a wide variety of presentations I can give. To book me, click here.
It is most important to know that all of the successes I just mentioned are really a result of one thing: the challenges I experienced since my mental illnesses emerged and the excruciating, yet successful and fulfilling, journey to recovery.
I live with Schizoaffective Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I have suffered a lot throughout the development of my illness, the lack of proper treatment, and misunderstanding of what mental illness means. As I tell people, I am the variety pack of mental illness, because I have experienced just about every symptom out there over the course of 9 years: crippling depression, unceasing anxiety, the infamous hypomania and mania, nonsensical delusions, and terrifying hallucinations.
But the most damaging part of mental illness wasn’t so much the symptoms, as I have learned to manage them all and no longer suffer from many of them. No, it is the stigma surrounding mental health that was most damaging. The fear of seeking treatment. The negative reactions from people who didn’t quite understand what was going on with me or how to react. The confusion and outright disbelief from the loved ones who should have been on the frontline as my supporters.
At my lowest point when I grappled with severe suicidal ideation, I found NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Orange County. I took the Peer-to-Peer class, which is a class just for individuals with mental health diagnoses. F or the first time, I met other people with mental illness who supported me. Though they did not know who I was, they extended their hearts to me and empathized in a way that no one else ever could. Through that “peer” connection, I began to heal, see that mental illness is not my fault, and take small steps into advocacy.
After becoming a teacher for that same Peer-to-Peer class, I began working in the mental health field as a peer mentor, to share that same peer connection. Since then, I advanced with every new job opportunity, joined several committees, and began the Master of Social Work program at CSU Long Beach. Five years later, here I am!
Being in recovery is not a weakness; it is a sign of strength. The challenges associated with mental illness are completely overwhelming at times, and in our most vulnerable points we must rely on our support systems to make it through the darkness. Thankfully I have my dearest parents and friends who have been there for me throughout everything, and I am proud to have my faith as a Muslim.
Hobbies & Interests
I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my loved ones, doing stand up comedy, reading and listening to audiobooks, playing games, doing Zumba, skateboarding, and watching Late Night talk shows on YouTube.
I have countless family, friends, colleagues, and mentors who have helped me in my recovery journey. I would like to highlight a few: