What does mental illness look like on a college campus?

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1 in 4 adults experience a mental illness in a given year

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one suffering when you have a mental illness. It’s easy to feel like nobody understands and to withdraw from social situations completely. However, in a room of 100 people, there’s an estimated 25 people that are experiencing mental health issues. So, you are not alone. Mental illness is more common than you think, and there are helpful resources all around.

The stars that follow represent the lives of college students lost to suicide each year…

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1,100 college students commit suicide each year

(Yes, every single one of those stars represents a student’s life lost to suicide each year. 1,100 stars to be exact.) Suicide is preventable. It’s important to educate oneself on the topic of mental illness and to know the warning signs of suicide. This knowledge is possible through organizations like Active Minds and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and their respective websites. Specifically, Active Minds is a positive force that works to destigmatize mental illness so that students don’t fear admitting to their mental struggles and getting help. Active Minds connects college students to mental health resources nearby so that they can understand that plenty of people live with mental illness and that it is manageable. When someone feels alone and too afraid to get the help that they need due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness, suicide may seem like the only way out. However, Suicide isn’t the only option. 

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Nearly 1/3 of all college students have reported feeling so depressed that they had trouble functioning

This number is extremely unsettling because college students are facing immense daily stress due to their many commitments including school, work, and extracurricular activities. Without getting the proper help, a student’s academic success may decline, they may stop showing up to work, and they may withdraw from activities they once enjoyed. However, if a student feels comfortable enough at their school to go to the school’s student health center or counseling center, they can get the treatment they need and a mental illness that once seemed impossible to live with can be managed. Life can and will go on with the proper counseling.

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1/2 of college students who have suicidal thoughts never seek help

No matter how you choose to look at it, half is half. It’s scary to think that these destructive, and deadly thoughts race through college students’ minds and only half of them, 50%, attempt to get counseling or other necessary treatment. The question is why, though?  Why do only half reach for a helping hand? Because, stigma. Stigma keeps many students struggling with mental illness silent. Silence is deadly. Those who remain silent feel alone, withdraw from others, and suffer more than those who ask for help. By eliminating stigma, we can give voices to those who suffer in silence.

So, what’s the takeaway? Destigmatize mental illness. Teach others about mental illness so they can truly understand. Teach everyone so they know the facts. Teach students so they don’t judge their peers on campus. Teach professors so they can help create a comfortable classroom environment. By educating those who don’t know what it feels like to suffer inside oneself, we can make life better for those who do.

#DestigmatizeMentalIllness

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