Active Minds, SHOC educate the campus on mental health disorders
When asked the typical “How are you?” by a passing friend, how many people answer this truthfully? The generic responses of “fine,” “well” or “good” have become automatic for the general College population. Rarely do people stop to notice if their friends are actually doing well. We never think about what may be happening underneath the mask of all these “fines.”
According to statistics, about one of every four people suffer from a mental health disorder. That means that around 450 current students on the Hill have one. These disorders commonly go unnoticed in college because students are living away from the watchful eyes of their family and old friends, and many are unwilling to admit that they are struggling. The frightening fact is that these illnesses can lead to tragedy.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Many don’t realize that 25 percent of our female college students engage in binging and purging routines, or that of the college students that reported cutting, one in three said that nobody knew about their behavior.
The good news is that, if identified, these illnesses can be treated with great success. Eighty to ninety percent of people who receive treatment for depression experience significant improvement. We have the resources on campus to reach out to students who are suffering, but it is important for each individual to reach out to his or her friends.
Everyone should know the signs and symptoms of depression, which include loss of interest in activities, persistent feelings of sadness or “empty-ness,” agitation, changes in eating and sleeping habits and substance abuse problems.
If you or a friend are struggling there are many ways to gain advice and support. Colby has four counselors that see students for free, and professors, deans, CAs and friends are always willing to help.
There are also countless screening tools online, such as mentalhealthscreening.org, that help students seek further help.
So instead of waiting for the expected “fine,” try to ask sincerely asking how a friend is doing. Dig deeper if they just say “fine.” It is up to all of us to look out for each other and to make sure that nobody has to battle hardships alone.
This week, Active Minds and Student Health on Campus will be hosting Mental Health Awareness Week. There will be a table in Pulver all week and on Thursday we are holding an event entitled “Narratives of Mental Health: Colby Students’ Stories.” Students have submitted anonymous stories about their own experiences with mental illness at Colby.
These stories will be read out loud in order to increase awareness. Please come to the event to hear the stories of your peers at 7 p.m. on October 4 in the Pugh Center.