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Spread awareness about mental illness

Cultural barriers protect stigma surrounding depression.   |   Maddi Seyfarth/THE CHIMES 

 

The decades-old stigmas associated with depression and mental illness slowly crumble as people,  especially young adults, use their voices to amplify their personal experience with mental illness. Numerous college students deal with loneliness and depression at school, but discussing personal experiences with mental illness with parents back home can remain difficult or impossible due to cultural backgrounds. Spreading knowledge about mental illness is an important way to break down the cultural barriers holding many students back from communicating with friends and family about mental illness.

A bigger issue

Mental illness is, without a doubt, a serious issue on college and university campuses nationwide. According to the National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression, over one out of every 12 college students experience suicidal ideation and create a suicide plan. According to USA Today College, over 49.5 percent of students “reported feeling hopeless in the past year” and over 60.5 percent of students “reported feeling lonely — a common indicator of depression — in the past year.” The National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression reports, “Depression affects more than 19 million American adults 18 and older each year (nearly 10 percent of American adults).” Many students, at some point during their college years, will likely feel the stress from classes, relationships, internships, family conflicts and unexpected or unforeseen events.

Not all students will feel comfortable discussing their depression with friends at school, but even fewer students would want to talk about their mental illness with parents — especially when mental illness is still perceived as a taboo topic in certain households. In certain cultures, mental illness is seldom, if ever discussed about.

The same article published by USA Today uses data provided by the American College Health Association to report the sad statistic showing over “two-thirds of students who are struggling do not seek treatment.” In statistical terms, there will always be students who will not seek the resources offered by the university for some reason.

Searching for a friend

The Chimes published an opinions article on March 15, about the importance of ending the harmful romanticization of mental illness. For those who have friends who suffer from depression and anxiety, it is important for an individual to help a friend in need. This does not mean a person should exhaust or burden him or herself in the goals of helping a friend. The act of simply being there for a person to talk to can be helpful and comforting in a time of need. It is important to know that your mental illness does not ultimately define who you are or devalue the relationship you have with God.

To the depressed and anxious, do not fear being seen as “too much,” being seen as a liability to friends or the school as a whole. There are students on this campus who have parents born and raised in a country or cultural background which continues to perceive mental illness as taboo — especially for students who come from an Asian-American household.

One of the best ways to spread the knowledge about mental illness includes discussing its effects with friends and families. Students survive when they help one another, and communities thrive when members are willing to accept their fellow neighbors in a time of need.

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