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Efforts to Reduce Mental Health Stigmas Should Ext...

Efforts to Reduce Mental Health Stigmas Should Extend Beyond Just One Week.

Every October, National Alliance of Mental Health recognizes the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness week. The purpose of this week is essentially to educate the public, fight stigmas associated with mental illness, raise awareness, and provide support to those diagnosed with a mental illness. While, it’s amazing that there is now a dedicated week to promote awareness about mental health, the conversation shouldn’t stop there. We need the conversation to keep on going.

Here’s Why – 

According to the CDC’s website, in the U.S. there are:

  • 42,773 suicide deaths per year
  • 65.9 million visits to physician offices with mental disorders as the primary diagnosis.
  • 5 million visits to emergency departments with mental disorders as the primary diagnosis.
  • 7.6% percent of persons aged 12 years and over with depression in any 2-week period (2009-2012).

This is not a small scale issue. It deserves more attention than the next future Kardashian/Jenner baby. 

Why I Care.

In some of my earlier works, I touched on the topic of mental health. It’s a topic that I will continue to write about, partially because my major is psychology, but also because I find it useful to illuminate the multifaceted emotional and psychological ups and downs that can contribute to different mental health conditions.To learn about different aspects of mental health, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a.k.a. NAMI’s website; which allows users to find support through programs, finding local organizations, and information for parents and caretakers.

Mental Health America, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness, is another useful resource. They provide several screening tools that allow users to test for depression, anxiety, and other disorders as references to take to health care providers.

What You Should Know.

College life puts students at risk for developing depression and anxiety. Approximately 41.6% of college students have stated anxiety as a top concern. Not to mention, the isolation that young adults and students can feel at a stage when they are lacking genuine connections — wrapped up in a pseudo-realistic phone world. These emotions are not meaningless, and often indicate a bigger issue. Fortunately, there are resources to help when experiencing these feelings.

  • Visit campus counseling services.
  • Visit www.psychology.com for therapists and other mental health professionals in your area.
  • If you’re at risk call lifeline,  1-800-273-8255 or 911

The topic of mental health is slowly making its way to mainstream media via artists, such as Logic, whose song “1-800-273-8255” addresses suicide, and celebrity advocates such as Demi Lovato, who, through sharing her experiences, has become an unofficial ambassador for mental health. Mental health has also become relevant in the world of art and Hollywood in TV series, and the occasional blockbuster. Though, the conversation is steering in a positive direction, there is still a long way to go. 

(Photo by Araí Moleri Riva Zucchelli)

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About Lesly Guzman

Current college student at NEIU in Chicago, Illinois, future psychologist that serves the world. Self proclaimed Xicana and also feminist (an oh so controversial topic in today’s world).

I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child advocacy studies and plan to work with minority adolescents and children. Topics of importance to me range from inner city violence (present in Chicago), the importance of funding education (or lack of in my institution’s case), to issues of identity, what it means to be a first generation college student, religion and culture, along with the utter most important topic of mental health. I challenge myself in my learning, in my views, and hope I may do the same in a positive manner for those I reach. I plan to help change the world one day, even if it takes a lifetime.


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