The Importance of Discussing Mental Health in College

Leading members of The Jed Foundation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) talked about a new guide, aiding college students with ways to discuss and treat mental health.

The Jed Foundation, like NAMI, strives to raise awareness for mental health, but also suicide prevention. The Jed Foundation was founded by Phil and Donna Satow in memory of their son, Jed, who committed suicide at the age of 20.

Mary Giliberti, J.D., CEO of NAMI, Brian Hainline, M.D., chief medical officer of NCAA and John MacPhee, CEO of The Jed Foundation conducted a national press conference call on Tuesday, Sept. 20 to promote the guide “Starting the Conversation: College and Your Mental Health.”

According to NAMI, nearly 75 percent of mental health conditions surface in adults around the age of 24, and 1 in 5 young adults live with a mental illness. Giliberti feels this is especially apparent for college students.

Over half of students enrolled in national universities reported struggling with anxiety, and over one-third of students reported dealing with depression.

“Mental illness is the biggest public issue that college students just don’t talk about,” said Giliberti.

Since students are not talking enough about their mental wellness, Giliberti, Hainline and MacPhee took to college news sources to get students talking about mental health.

There are many stigmas that revolve around mental illnesses such as self-internalization. In most cases of depression or anxiety, students are afraid to outwardly show they suffer from a mental illness for fear of judgment or a lack of understanding. Another reasons students do not openly talk about mental health is out of concern for breaking trust or loyalty with friends.

Some students do not know what to do when seeking help. Most of the time students are unaware of resources available on campus for their mental health.

UWG offers help in a number of ways. Students can seek guidance from the Counseling Center located in Row Hall, Health Services and the Ombuds Office in Strozier Hall. Student athletes can receive a referral for help through the center as well.

Guidance is a necessary part of dealing with a mental illness and resources need to be made available to students when they enter college. MacPhee said the first step in getting students to talk about mental health is to give them a safety net.

Hainline felt that there are more stresses on student athletes. He encourages universities to ask questions like: Who is authorized to help mental care? Is there a rehearsed protocol for each mental illness? Are their mental health screenings? Is there a general understanding of culture and an education on the effects culture has on a student’s mind?

“It’s not only affecting the individual, but their performance as well,” said Hainline.

In closing, Giliberti made a point that mental illnesses are just as common as diabetes or other health issues and need to be treated as such.

“It is a fact that mental health is important,” said Giliberti. “The brain is an important part of the body, and it needs to be taken care of just as much as the rest of the body.”




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