If you have access to social media, it is no secret that Amanda Bynes’ mental stability has been in question during these last months. Her Twitter account in particular has sparked controversy and her posts have gained popularity due to their outspokenness and candid content. Earlier this month, she had tweeted that her father sexually assaulted her as a child and then hours later, receded these statements saying, “the microchip in my brain made me say those things.” Currently, she is on psychiatric hold.
Amanda Bynes’ downward spiral has been projected to the public through mass media since her initial arrest in May 2013 after being found with marijuana and resisting arrest. One year later, people still poke fun of her mental state and find amusement from her sporadic and irrational actions instead of focusing on the seriousness of the issue.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, mental illness is becoming a more and more prevalent topic. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness in the U.S. While we as people cannot medically lower these numbers, we can create awareness, and even more, enact sympathy instead of belittling the matter. Because mental illnesses do not show physical symptoms, it can be hard to designate what is actually a sign of a problem and what is not. Generally, people utilize physical symptoms to help justify the severity of an injury and without them, it becomes easier to disregard any potential signs.
When students enter college, instances of anxiety, stress, hopelessness, and depression increase exponentially compared to their high school experiences. Don’t get me wrong, college can also bring out a plethora of positive emotions, but the negatives have become a taboo and frowned upon in the past years. A common thought by people is that suicide is cowardly. They can’t handle their own problems and instead, “take the easy way out.” While the obvious intention is to raise awareness for mental illness, the bigger goal should be to create a healthy environment in which a person does not fear they will be ostracized for seeking help.
The National Alliance of Mental Health suggests the following to help a friend suffering from a mental illness:
1: Reach out to someone you trust: For a person who has never had experience with a mental illness, it can be difficult to know the right way to handle their situation. Don’t be afraid to talk with other people that can help about what is going on. Friends, family, and on campus counseling staff are great resources.
2. Share your concerns: Let your friend know that you have been noticing changes in their behavior. Make sure you use a compassionate tone rather than a degrading one. By bringing it up to them, it can create a safe space where they might feel comfortable sharing their thoughts as well.
3. Offer support: Ask your friend what you can do to help them. Offer to make an appointment with an on campus counseling service or maybe go with them to a support group. Even just offering to keep them company until they feel better is beneficial.
4. Be a friend: Continue being there for your friend as you would normally. Check in on them throughout the day, invite them to different events, and build up a support system for them. Create a safe space where they feel more at ease and create a trust so in the future, they can alert you of any symptoms or changes in their mood.