When you hear the term mental health, what is the first thing that pops into your head? For some, it’s stigma or limitations, but for many others it’s strength and resilience.
College campuses across the nation are doing more to increase awareness, visibility and support for their students. Bloomsburg University’s Health and Wellness initiative has made the extra effort to appoint a team of faculty, staff and students whose specific focus is mental health and suicide prevention. I am fortunate enough to serve this cause as the graduate assistant.
Just in the first two weeks of this new position, I noticed that students’ behaviors towards mental health vary far and wide. Some students have personally experienced mental health distress, others have friends and family who struggle with mental health, and still many others associate the term mental health with weakness and dependency.
As I step into this new role, my goal is to have an honest conversation with students, faculty and staff through this outlet about awareness, stigma and resources. It’s time to really talk about mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), these are the facts that you, as a college student, should know about mental health:
– 80% of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a student
– 50% of students greatly struggle from anxiety and it affects their schoolwork
You are not alone. The college experience is a life-changing journey with ups and downs. There are peers, faculty and staff that want to rejoice in your accomplishments and support you in your time of need.
Mental health is as important as physical health. If you broke your arm, you would go see a doctor. So, why wouldn’t you see a counselor, therapist or other trained professional if you were struggling with mental health?
Talking about your thoughts, insecurities and vulnerabilities is one of the hardest things you can do. Those that seek professional help to find balance in their lives are the strongest people you will have the privilege of knowing. There is help, there is hope.
With vulnerability, openness and treatment, mental health is manageable. Talking with a professional and leaning on your friends can lessen its negative impact on your life. Do not wait until the feelings of hopelessness get worse. It’s time to make yourself the priority and tell someone you are struggling and need help. People care about you and want to see you succeed. You are worth it.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week at Bloomsburg University. The McDowell Institute, in collaboration with BU Health and Wellness, invites you to attend Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Academic Quad. You are encouraged to participate in some yoga, rock painting and pet the cutest therapy dogs.
Here is my challenge to you: While you are enjoying the event, reflect on your attitudes towards mental health. What can you do to promote mental health awareness with your friends, in student leadership positions, and most importantly, within yourself?