In the United States of America, 1 in 4 adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health disease. Almost 10 percent of American adults have mood disorders. Suicide is one of the 10 leading causes for deaths in the United States. Yet, for many people, discussing mental health remains a taboo.
Active Minds and the Undergraduate Psychology Association held their annual Stigma Panel Wednesday evening in Harris Hall, with the goal of “changing the conversation about mental health.”
“In this society there is too much of an ‘Oh, I’ll tough it out’ philosophy, or ‘that’s not a real disorder.’ The law says it is, our office says it is,” said Services for Students with Disabilities assistant director Alison May. She said she hopes that more students begin to turn to her office and CAPS for help instead of struggling to battle diseases such as bipolar disorder and depression on their own.
University mental health administrators emphasized all of the resources available to students on campus: CAPS, the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, The Women’s Center and the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education. Since last year, the amount of students using CAPS has increased by 19 percent.
Following these brief speeches by May and other University mental health administrators, a diverse panel of four Northwestern students told the audience of their battles with mental health disorders.
“Everybody is very similar, because we are all humans,” said Communication junior Pat Beecher. “We can all relate on some level.”
Each student had overcome different mental disorders, including drug-addiction, anorexia nervosa, anxiety, and depression. They all sought help for their disorders, despite the fear of stigma; it was through therapy and ‘talking’ with friends and family that these students were able to reclaim their health.
“People who have disorders, they don’t want them, and it’s not something that they’re trying to get attention for,” said Communication junior Jodi Naglie. “It’s something that’s wrong with them. Not ‘wrong,’ but something that easily can be helped and talked about.”