Various & Sundry

Active Minds: Fighting Stigma in Mental Health

activemindsAs part of Mental Health Awareness month, I would like to draw your attention to a favorite non-profit of mine that I came to be a part of while attending University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Active Minds is the leading nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking.  We are changing the culture on campuses and in the community by providing information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training to the next generation.

By developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campuses nationwide, the nonprofit organization works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and the mental health community.

Through campus-wide events and national programs, Active Minds aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and create a comfortable environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on campuses nationwide.

Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.

As someone who has studied various levels of psychology over the years I still find it incredible and unacceptable the way we treat mental health in this country. Stigma. Shame. Hatred. Ignorance. Avoidance. All of these things directed at someone who cannot control what is happening to them and what for? What purpose is served? None. Nothing is gained and sometimes all is lost.

I have suffered from depression and anxiety for many years since I was an adolescent. It used to be something I wouldn’t want to talk about but now I feel like I should. There is no shame in how you feel. There is no shame in having a mental disorder. In high school, I lost a close friend to suicide. He suffered in silence while  his closest friends had no idea how he felt because he didn’t feel like it was something he could talk about.

It baffles me that it is well known that one should visit the doctor for regular checkups but why isn’t mental health included in that? Why is it just presumed that all is right with our heads until it isn’t? That’s not the way the brain works. Some things happen before your DNA is even fully transcribed but you wouldn’t know it until a symptom presents. (I used to always feel like someone was watching me–even alone in a room, I felt watched. Constantly. At home, at school, at work, everywhere. It was only when I mentioned it to someone and talked to a professional about it that I realized, hey, that’s is not typical!)

Did You Know…

  • The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 22.1% of all Americans 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 18-24 year olds and the 2nd leading cause of death for college students alone.
  • There are four male (3.8) suicides for every female suicide.
  • An estimated 25% of women and 10% of men will suffer from depression in their lifetime.
  • Each year, eating disorders affect millions of Americans, 85-90% of whom are teens and young adult women.

This and much more can be found on activeminds.org.

Check out their website for more resources or to GET HELP.

 

 

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