Time to destigmatize mental illness


Hailee Powell

With mental illness on the rise, it is important to take your mental health seriously. During college, people are at higher risk of being diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety, PTSD and depression. With this being said, it’s important to remind everyone that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

Many college students suffer from mental health disorders or illnesses, but because of the stigma surrounding it, people keep their feelings to themselves. Often, people refuse to seek help because they feel their problems aren’t serious enough to warrant seeing a counselor or a therapist. This does nothing to help improve mental well-being, and if something is bothering you enough to even question if it’s worth talking to someone about, you should.

Keeping this in mind, I believe it is on us to destigmatize mental health. We can do this by starting to talk about it more openly. Many folks are too embarrassed to bring up any mental health issues they may be facing because mental illness isn’t viewed as a “real illness” by some people. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it
isn’t there.

A second way to destigmatize mental health is to start by reshaping the way you think about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. It’s about time to start acknowledging mental health conditions as real illnesses and something that requires actual treatment such as therapy or medication. Just because it doesn’t always manifest in physical symptoms doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge to overcome.

Thirdly, we can combat stigma by simply staying educated. This involves not only being able to identify symptoms in ourselves, friends and family members, but knowing about and utilizing outside resources. At Northern, we have the counseling center where students can talk through any problems they may be facing either one-on-one with a counselor or during group sessions. Outside of the university, there are various doctors and professionals who are able to help, as well as reaching out to friends and family.

Finally, we can show compassion and understanding towards others experiencing mental health conditions. One way to accomplish this is simply being there for someone who is struggling and letting them know they are not going through it alone. The truth is, 30 percent of college students have reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function,” so odds are you know someone (if not yourself) who is dealing with something. Be someone who they can simply lean on, or someone who can help lead them to the correct resources they need to cope with whatever they may be dealing with.

To conclude, the stigma surrounding mental health can prevent those with mental health conditions from seeking help. To end the stigma, we can begin by being more open while discussing mental health. Secondly, we can begin remodeling how we think about various mental illnesses by treating them properly. With this, it is important to know and stay educated about how to obtain the proper resources to help you or a loved one facing mental illness. Lastly, break down the stigma by offering support to someone who is going through hard times. Taking care of yourself includes taking care of your mental health, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.