Have you had thoughts where you just didn’t “feel right” and aren’t sure why or your thoughts, feelings or behaviors are starting to affect your life at home, school or friends? Or maybe you are unable to cope with the stresses in your life. I know as a student, school can also be daunting, especially when you are overwhelmed with assignments, exams, work and social obligations. Sometimes overworking and not taking care of your mental health can land you in a hospital. I just recently had to admit myself in the hospital for a week because I could no longer function and my body and mind had shut down from the stress of overworking and severity of my depression. Not to say that being in the hospital is a bad thing because sometimes we do need help and talk to the right professionals.
What is Mental Health?
According to MentalHealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
Factors that contribute to mental health problems include:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
The Importance of Talking About Mental Health
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, “approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million Americans, experience some form of mental illness in a given year”( https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers ). Conversations on mental health and mental illness “has been difficult to openly discuss and approach over the years and many people view mental health with a negative stigma. With these issues becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s imperative that we move mental health to the forefront of conversation topics and have transparent discussions about how we are truly feeling” says Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing & Technology at Banyan Mental Health. Therefore it is important to openly talk about mental health because it removes stigma, mental health and mental illness is more common than you think, and it promotes healthy treatment and decreases the rate of suicide.
Tips For Talking About Mental Health
- Write a letter if you are afraid to talk face-to-face.
- Talk to someone who doesn’t know you such as a therapist or psychologist if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a loved one.
- Start by journaling and then transition to speaking.
- Practice speaking in the mirror before you talk to someone if you are struggling to do so.
- Remember that you will probably feel a great sense of relief after talking with someone.
- Remember that you are not alone.
Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
- Getting professional help if you need it
- Connecting with others
- Staying positive
- Getting physically active
- Helping others
- Getting enough sleep
- Developing coping skills
For Universities at Shady Grove (USG) students who are seeking help, you can also visit the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Here is the link: https://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/center-for-counseling-and-consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember that your mental health matters.