Mental Health Mentality
Your mental health is more important than your GPA. It’s an adage on the lips of every university student, especially when finals rear their heads. During finals week, it seems like those of us who can be bothered to look up from our books make it a point to form this security blanket, a safety net and a shoulder to cry on, to come together with our fellow sufferers and take a surface interest in each other’s mental well-being.
What about the rest of the year?
There’s a tendency in this country, and, dare we say it, at this university especially, for us to write off our mental health as unimportant. Our lives are cluttered with myriad responsibilities and worries, and the idea of taking time out to reevaluate and measure the severity of our troubles doesn’t seem worth the moments sacrificed. We tell ourselves that any anxiety we experience is no more than Finals Flu, a consequence of too much on our plate, and that when the quarter is over, all will be well.
But that’s not always true, and it’s time to face the facts. For some of us, that feeling of fraying at the seams doesn’t vanish when the scantrons are graded. Some of your friends and peers go home to sleepless nights and cold showers to wake up and wash away the woe, and we daresay that they aren’t getting the support they need.
But that’s odd, isn’t it? On our campus, there are enough support structures to make your head spin. The Counseling Center. The LGBT Resource Center. CARE. That’s just to name a few. The Counseling Center even offers a stellar Online Mental Health Screening and PDF’s for managing traumatic stress. Any given day on Ring Road, there’s a special interest or religious group beckoning with open arms and friendly words just to help out the student body. These structures may have some critics, but they’re out there every day offering pure assistance, so it’d be difficult to say that the blame for the mental health drain falls on their shoulders.
Then, unfortunately, this denial of a serious issue appears to be the fault of the populace, of a student body determined to pull itself up by its own fraying bootstraps. Time to face the facts: mental health and the issues surrounding it, including suicide needs attention.
We need more than a cheat sheet or a trip to the pub or even a friendly embrace — some of us need real help, and all of us need to change our attitude about it. We tend to stigmatize those seeking help for mental health, yet it should be looked at with the same receptiveness as physical health.
It’s partly a symptom of American individualism and partly a tendency to consider our youth a form of invincibility, but we can’t weather every storm alone. One bad day is one thing, but a whole string of them isn’t just coincidence — it’s a sickness. Depression isn’t something a person just “gets over.” We get wrapped up in mental bubble wrap, and if there’s nothing wrong with us we assume that everyone else is the same. We look at our scatterbrained friends and ask them to relax, to slow down, but maybe their anxiety is a symptom of something more. We rationalize our depression and say that it’s not important, that there’s children starving and soldiers fighting wars so what right do we have to be miserable, that we need to suck it up and get over it. But sometimes we can’t. Mental illness is just as serious, just as dangerous and just as prevalent as the common cold, and it’s time we realized that and acknowledged it. For our own sake, as well as for our friends.
So if you’re dredging through your classes with lead feet, if your heart feels too heavy to handle every little change in tide, if waking up in the morning seems like nothing beyond a chore, please, take some time to take a breath, take care of yourself and get some help.
Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, year and major.