Are you overwhelmed with stress? Do you have signs of depression? Unexplained anger? Are you consumed with worry? Are you grieving a loss? Do you have thoughts of suicide? Maybe it's days of no sleep followed by a period of depression?
An estimated one in four Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. In Canada, 20 percent will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health issues are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada, but the least sought after for treatment. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada predicts that depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world (next to heart disease) by 2020.
Why would we suffer through any of these things on our own? There is help. Most likely, there is help right on your campus or in your community.
While it is true that many more people are being treated for mental health issues today, the problem is that too many elect to stop taking their medications or seeing their therapists, or both, without seeking professional input. The bigger issue is that 50% of people who need treatment for mental illness never seek it, even though most mental illnesses are treatable.
You have invested in a college education to learn and/or are dedicating your life to careers or causes that are important to you. You need your brain to be working to its fullest capacity. The truth is that the healthiest people benefit the most from counseling - don't wait until it becomes a crisis situation to seek help.
Your mental health is crucial -always. There are many things you can do to protect it. See some suggestions below for taking care of your own mental health and appropriately managing your stress:
- You are not alone. Whatever you are experiencing, someone else is currently or has experienced it, too. It is too easy to feel isolated by your symptoms because we just don't talk about it enough. Find someone you can trust and talk to them. Many of you have counseling services right on your campus. If you don't, seek out other local resources - even a trusted faculty or staff member, or a pastor- that you feel comfortable talking to. It is so important for your feelings to be validated and for you to get the necessary help. Don't wait for someone else to notice and swoop in to take care of you. Unfortunately, that may not happen. You are an adult now, and you need to take care of you.
- Choose health. Make sure you are managing your stress in a healthy way. Good nutrition and regular exercise can go a long way in making sure you are mentally healthy.
- Seek information. If you aren't sure what is going on with you, take advantage of some of the free quizzes offered by reputable sites like ULifeline and make sure your campus and local mental health resources are posted for easy access.
- Talk about it. Think about what you can do in your circles to open the door to conversations about mental health.
- Are you familiar with Post Secret? Check it out
Alpha Gamma Deltas are there for one another. Make it a point to check in with others and to really take time to be there for your friends and family, offering a listening ear when they need to talk. Don't be afraid that you won't know what to say. Listening and showing you care are the most important things you can do.At the same time, don't be afraid to be honest with yourself and your friends if you feel like the conversations have moved beyond what you can offer. Few of us have the training to help a friend talk through the really difficult stuff of life. Sometimes the best way that we can be there for our friends is to help them get professional help.
- What about hosting a To Write Love on Her Arms event?
If you feel completely overwhelmed or know a friend who could benefit from talking to someone, call one of these hotlines anytime:
Crisis Intervention Centre (CAN) 1-800-757-7766
National Lifeline (USA) 1-800-273-TALK