Student becomes mental health advocate
By Marcie Nelson
When Margaret Kramer was a sophomore in high school, she developed an eating disorder that took over her life. Working with her family, friends and health care professionals, Kramer was able to regain control over her health.
"By the end of my senior year of high school, I was fully recovered," Kramer says. "That was very atypical and I am sure it was because of my incredible support team."
Her own experience has led her to study marketing and health promotion at the University of South Carolina, where she will be a senior in the fall, and to become an advocate for mental health awareness and help millions of Americans who suffer from eating disorders.
Not everyone is lucky enough to receive the same kind of help that Kramer did. She is personally invested in taking advantage of every opportunity Carolina has to offer regarding mental health advocacy, social policy and leadership.
Kramer first became a peer leader for Changing Carolina, then mental health chair. Through her involvement with the counseling center, she became part of the Mental Health Council.
The pinnacle of her involvement, however, was working with UofSC's chapter of Active Minds, a national nonprofit working to remove the stigma from mental health issues on college campuses.
"Seeing the interest and passion of students and executive officers involved with Active Minds is extremely gratifying," Kramer says. "That's exactly what mental health advocacy needs: people who are willing to put themselves in the forefront as representatives to help de-stigmatize mental health issues."
Kramer's achievements won her the prestigious Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award, a national honor granted to the one student who exemplifies mental health advocacy. But to Kramer, the decision to apply for the honor was not an easy one.
"If I did happen to win, everyone would know about my personal struggles with an eating disorder in the past," she says. "Ironically, that ended up being the very reason I applied. I decided it was more important to share my success story than protect my privacy."
To Kramer, mental health advocacy is a career path that will never truly be complete. She will continue to work to improve the field and develop resources that professionals and peers can use for years to come.
The University of South Carolina offers students a safe place to speak privately with a trained counselor about a variety of concerns. To learn more, visit the Counseling and Human Development Center website.
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