Research by the National Alliance on Mental Health states 75 percent of mental illnesses begin by the age of 24. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 11.8 million students between ages 18 to 24 enrolled in U.S. colleges in 2015.
With these numbers in mind, it comes as no surprise that mental illness is common among college students. Yet people who live with these conditions are still discriminated against and, as a result, feel the need to hide this aspect of themselves from others.
Mental health issues, according to mentalhealth.gov, can be attributed to various factors including biological, life experiences and family history. This is a very broad outlook on mental illness, considering there are countless diagnoses on the spectrum of mental health and all people are different.
Unfortunately, due to the stigma that surrounds it and the ignorance of people regarding it, people with mental illness are too often seen as the same, which cannot be further from the truth. All this stigma fueled by misunderstanding leads to social distancing and, according to an article on Psychology Today, has proven to only worsen conditions.
Where is the humanity in shutting someone out who may need more than anything to confide in or a helping hand in the right direction?
According to the NAMI, one in five young adults will experience some form of mental health condition during college. This statistic is hard for some to grasp, from both those who have and don’t have one of these conditions.
For those who do, it is proof that you do not stand alone. People are out there who understand what you are going through. Do not shame yourself. It may not be an easy road ahead, but the first and strongest step is to seek help.
For those who don’t, it’s time to let go of the stigma which is causing people with mental illness to feel insecure in the first place.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined only 25 percent of adults with mental health symptoms believe that people are sympathetic and caring for those with mental illnesses.
This needs to change. A conversation needs to be had with both sides regarding people with mental illness as exactly who they are: people. Once these conversations are had, society will be one step closer to ending this ignorance-driven stigma.
Counseling information and resources can be accessed for Youngstown State University students on the Student Counseling Services webpage.