Every year roughly 42.5 million American’s suffer from a mental illness, that’s nearly 1 in 5 people. Historically, our society has placed a stigma on those who suffer from a mental illness making treatment and proper care extremely difficult. But based on these number, it’s clear that having a mental illness is extremely common, yet we don’t discuss it nearly as often as we should.
As a college student at Central Washington University, I have met a number of people who suffer and it can be extremely difficult. Students are often trying to do a balancing act at this stage in their lives. It can be extremely stressful trying to maintaining our school work, relationships, sleep schedules and our health. And unfortunately, one aspect of our life usually suffers and often time that is our mental health.
In order to raise awareness CWU’s Bateman team recently collaborated with a group called Change Direction in order to “Break the Stigma” of mental illness.
March 27th they kicked off the week with a panel and resource fair called, “It’s Not Fair!”. Students were able to listen to a panel of speakers talk about mental health and personality change.
On day two they tabled in the SURC handing out candy and coffee to our students. The Bateman team set up a board for students to write different aspects of their life that cause them stress. Students wrote things such as: loans, group projects, the future and finding a real job just to name a few.
Day three called students together to “Walk It Out”, they walked around CWU’s campus with signs about mental illness offering to walk students to class and handing out flyers.
Day four they set up another board for the students to write on, but this time they asked students to write how they take care of themselves. A few friends and I attended and were able to participate in the activities. On the final day of the week they had an event titled, “Wine About it” and was located at the John Ford Clymer Museum in Ellensburg. They had art and wine at the event and gave students a chance to take a break and speak openly about mental health.
I find it extremely encouraging to see students rallying together to create a positive change on our campus. As college students, our mental health can often be put on the back burner and wreak havoc on our lives. Stress and anxiety can cause us to fall apart in every aspect of our life.
This week and campaign reminded me how important it is for everyone to take care of ourselves first. When our mental health is not a priority it makes it extremely difficult to care for everything else in our busy lives.
So I encourage you to take a moment out of your day to asses your mental health. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Reach out to someone you can rely on because you are not alone in your struggles and you deserve to be happy.