Mental illness is not a joke

As a college student, I constantly hear people joke about how stressed and depressed they are. Tweets about how much anxiety you have over the upcoming tests you have seem to have the most likes. Mental health is often seen as a joke, but in reality, it is a serious matter that anyone is susceptible to.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has statistics showing that 75 percent of mental illnesses are onset by age 24 and that one in five adults have experienced mental illness. These studies were done in 2012, but these statistics are still shocking.
I have seen a lot of buzz about mental illness online lately due to the death of Peru State student and local girl Kaelia Nelson. While I did not know her personally, she seemed to be a bright, young girl who had an impact on everyone she met. However, her mental illness led to her tragic suicide.
Nelson, who was in the pageant circuit, made her platform Stomping the Stigma: Creating Conversations about Mental Illness.
It is a tragedy that her death is what finally helped bring light to a cause she cared so deeply about.
An article in Times Magazine, titled “Why College Is a Risky Time for Students’ Mental Health,” sourced the American College Health Association who found students are reporting incredibly high amounts of anxiety and depression, only 12 percent went to counseling. The ACHA’s also reported that only 15 percent of students who commit suicide got counseling on campus.
College leaves stress at an all-time high, but what amount of stress is too much? Those jokes your friend keeps making about crippling anxiety may not just be jokes.
Laughing about mental illness and our stress on social media and to our friends may help us cope, but there is usually some truth to every joke.
We must educate ourselves on mental illnesses and warning signs to avoid the loss of another beautiful heart.
The Times article does claim that the percentage of students seeking any mental health services has increased from 2010 to 2016. We cannot decrease the stress and pressure put on us as students, but we can recognize the problem and take action. Before you can take care of your classes, your friends, or your relationships, you must first take care of yourself.
We must take mental illness seriously and reach out to those it may affect. Let’s do what Kaelia set out to do and create the conversations about mental illness.
For those having trouble dealing with the death of Kaelia or mental health or substance abuse issues can contact services on campus and off-campus, at places like Western Community Health Services.
You can also contact 1-877-479-7001 as a resource for mental health or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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