Plans for My Year as Miss International

I’m so excited to share the plans that I have for my year! After I won Miss Texas International, I sat down to think about how my year would look. Winning Miss International allowed me to create an “extension” plan as I would have a few extra months to carry out my original goals! Here are some of the things that you will see during my year:

- I work very closely with the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) and am currently their Texas Ambassador. I will continue to work with them on our joint effort to break the stigma associated with mental illness. Since NAMI has a national presence, I have the ability to visit their other offices throughout the United States in order to connect with state directors and board members to focus on expanding the outreach of my platform 'Healthy Mind, Successful Life' in their areas.. NAMI also has invited me to be a speaker at two of the NAMI conferences coming up this Fall where over 4,000 mental health professionals will be in attendance. I am beyond thrilled about this opportunity, because although I will be there as Miss International, this is a huge step forward in my career too!

- I also work with H.U.G.S. For Autism and am their official spokesperson until 2017. We specifically work on making sure students with autism have the accommodations they need to be successful at school without having to worry about bullying and judgment. The “No Bull” Pledge is used for any student to make a commitment to not bully or not be a bystander to bullying. We will continue to go into schools to make sure students understand the effects of bullying and have them take the pledge! 

- In my efforts to “start the conversation” about mental health, I will be going to schools to talk to students about mental illness and being comfortable asking for help. I will teach them positive coping skills that they can use in their daily lives to hopefully be able to reduce the symptoms they are experiencing and eliminate the need for professional help. However, since I am fully aware that the need for professional help will more than likely be here to stay, I will continue to provide people with the resources that are available for them. As Miss Texas International, I started visiting different facilities in order to meet with staff and know what is available for those who need professional services and I will continue to do this as Miss International. Although I am a licensed therapist, and even refer patients to different facilities, there are still resources that I am not aware of. So this has been a wonderful learning experience for me too!

- I have had wonderful opportunities to meet celebrities over the years. I have realized how much influence they have over our society. So I thought, why not include them in a conversation to talk about how they maintain their mental health in the hopes that others will follow in their footsteps. Right before the Miss International pageant, I was able to conduct an interview with Steve Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, and his interview is posted on my personal website I am very excited about the interviews I have planned for this year and can’t wait to share them with you!

- Finally, I will work with the American Heart Association to continue to encourage people to live heart healthy lives. The interesting thing about it is a lot of the tips that are given to stay “heart healthy” are also ways to stay mentally healthy! I have been able to attend a fundraising luncheon and a gala in the last couple of months, and it has been really encouraging to see people financially give in order for the AHA to continue the research that is needed to save lives. Since I have gone through the AHA media training, I am looking forward to having the opportunity to speak on heart issues in support of the Go Red Campaign. 

I am so excited about what this year holds and the opportunities that will come my way. I also love how my platform fits in with my sister queens platforms too! Due to the fact that I have worked with veterans with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), I fully support Farabe’ in her mission to help those who have fought for our country. I'm excited to join her next weekend for what will be a great event! Since my parents have incorporated volunteerism in my life since I was 3 years old, I applaud Jules’ efforts to encourage people to go out and volunteer! I always encourage my patients to volunteer and gain new perspectives on life. I can’t wait to help her reach some of her platform goals as well! I have also been connected with Houston Rockets Dwight Howard’s foundation D12 and Breathe Again. I really appreciate the support they have given me these last few months and I believe there is tremendous potential to continue to bring our platforms together over the next year!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015


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