I have not had a mental illness. I can only hope that I never do. However, there have been many people in my life who have suffered one mental illness or another. Our relationships started to suffer because, often times, I didn’t even know what they were going through. Even though I was very close with a lot of these people, they didn’t feel comfortable talking about what they were experiencing.
While not all of them told me why they never talked about it, a couple of times people told me that they thought that people only wanted to be around for the good times, and that they were afraid of what people would think about them. I have a feeling that maybe a few of the other people might have felt similarly.
It has become normal for people to feel the need to project the image that everything is good in their lives. Especially with the rise of social media, this image of perfection has become even easier to create. Few are willing to share their personal issues on social media, opting to only share the good moments. People can hide all their problems behind the screen and only share what they want others to see. It can be easy for people with mental illness to then hide their problems from their friends and family.
Through my almost four years at SCU, I have seen or heard of many people who will randomly take a quarter off without much explanation. When that person is brought up, conversation will normally turn away from the subject quickly, as if something taboo is being discussed. But why don’t we discuss what leads these students to seek reprieve from our campus?
A problem can’t be fixed if it is ignored. Mental illnesses are not going away; in fact, they are worsening. Mental illnesses are on an incline across college campuses. According to the American Psychological Association depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and self-injury are the most common issues college counselors are seeing.
These are serious issues, but most of us do not feel comfortable discussing them. However, one of the best ways to help people going through any of these illnesses is to talk about it. When you go to a friend who is dealing with a mental illness and talk to them, it presents the opportunity to show your support and understanding. If you have a mental illness, opening up to your friends can help them to better help you.
If you aren’t sure where to start, CAPS (Counseling and Psychology Services) is a great resource right on our campus. The staff has a wide variety of specialties, and they offer many different services. They will be able to help you find the best ways to manage your mental illness during a 45-minute individual session. The best part is that first six individual sessions are free! You can find more info about CAPS at their website. If you want to make an appointment, you can call them at 408-554-4501.
Talk is essential to recovery. Start a conversation today.
If you are a friend looking to talk to a friend you believe is experiencing mental health issues, read through some of these options.
If you have a mental illness, this website offers some ways to discuss what you are going through with those close to you.
For more information about mental health on college campuses, view the study “College Students Speak” conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Health in 2012.