The Daily Eastern News

You are not alone if you suffer from a mental illness

Shirley J. Davis, Columnist

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Every year since 1949 Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed as the month of May in the United States. This observance was started by the Mental Health America organization. Once called the National Association for Mental Health, this online organization is dedicated to disseminating helpful and useful information to the public to help end the shame often involved with living with a mental health condition.

The vital purpose of mental health month is to raise raising awareness and to end stigma, the unnecessary disgrace heaped upon those who have a mental health problem.

Stigma keeps people from getting the help they need by holding people hostage as they suffer alone because they are afraid to ask for help. Stigma is also destructive in that it keeps “healthy” individuals from seeking out the truth about what mental illness entails, which breeds fear and misunderstanding.

The facts about mental health in the United States are staggering.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), one in five (43.8 million) adults living in the U.S. will experience some mental health crisis each year. That means in a room filled with one hundred adults, there is a significant possibility that 20 (or more) are living with either a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health disorder. If these statistics aren’t mind-blowing enough, it is important to remember that 100 percent of all humans everywhere will have at least one mental health crisis in their lifetimes. These might include, (to name only a few) the death of a loved one, loss of a job and suffering a relational break-up.

College students certainly are not immune to the intrusiveness of experiencing a mental health crisis. According to the American College Health Association on their report the National College Health Assessment in 2011, 86.3 percent of college students surveyed in the U.S. feel overwhelmed by their new life as a college student, and 50.6 percent find themselves feeling overwhelmed by anxiety. It is also important to note that the onset of Schizophrenia, a severe form of mental illness, has ages of onset of 18 for men and 25 for women, meaning that the disorder strikes during the beginning of a student’s college career.

Fortunately, there is hope. Living with a mental health disorder is not a death sentence, and there are treatments to mitigate the effects of the many types of brain disorders. These treatments can greatly enhance the happiness and quality of life of those who find themselves living with a mental health diagnosis.

Celebrating mental health month, this article was written to help make all the students at Eastern aware of two things.

One: If you are experiencing feelings of hopeless, helplessness or being overwhelmed by your student responsibilities, you are not alone. Out of the student body at Eastern, there are hundreds like you. There is no need to hide or to suffer alone.

Two: There are qualified professionals right on campus who are willing and able to help you get through whatever crisis you may be experiencing. The counseling clinic, located in the Human Services Building is open Monday through Friday to help you cope. They offer counseling by psychologists and therapists by appointment, and the fees are affordable to most students. The counseling clinic also provides emergency services if you find yourself in a crisis that needs immediate attention during the hours when the center is not open.

The point of Mental Health Month and this article is to help students and others understand that living and suffering alone in silence is not necessary. Having a mental health crisis is a human problem, not a personal one, and mental health disorders are treatable.

So, spread the word and remember:

You are not alone.

Mental Health Services at Eastern:

You may also contact them at 217-581-3103 Summer hours are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m..

For after-hours emergency contact the emergency number at 1-866-567-2400.

Frequently Asked Questions Page for Eastern Counseling Center


Shirley J. Davis is a senior psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]


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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
You are not alone if you suffer from a mental illness