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The growing epidemic not enough people are talking about

Mental health is a big issue. And not just on campus, but for the majority of people our age. You could go almost anywhere, but if you’re around people within three to four years of your age, chances are about half of them are struggling with their mental health.

The most prevalent mental illnesses today, especially among college-age students, are depression and anxiety, and those are the disorders I will be focusing on in this article.

First of all, for those who are struggling, I want you to know one thing: You are not alone.

I cannot stress that point enough. If you reach out to someone who cares about you, they will help you, whether that means walking you to a professional who can help or just sitting down and talking with you about whatever’s on your mind.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Nikki Allen Dyer, the acting director of the counseling center at SU, about some resources students have and some ways a friend can help someone they care about when they’re going through a tough time.

From our conversation, I’ve made a list of signs to watch out for in others and ways to take action in the fight against depression and anxiety.

1. Awareness

The very first thing Dyer said in our interview was this: “Being aware of your symptoms is a huge key. Really be in touch with what’s going on within ourselves.”

Being aware not only of yourself and how you feel, but also the environment you’re in can make a huge difference. Just getting yourself out of a place or situation that might be damaging could be the difference between a good and a bad day.

2. Speak Up

This goes mostly for the friends of the affected student. If you notice a them slacking behind on their schoolwork or resigning themselves from social activities more than is usual, a gentle nudge or just an “I see you” can be a big help, too.

“Really going into that with really a spirit of care,” Dyer said. “You know, [say] ‘This is what I’m observing, and it seems like it’s a change for you, and I’m concerned about you. I don’t know if you want to talk about something?’”

The smallest things can affect these people in the best ways. Just bringing up the issue can make a difference. It can make a person feel seen.

“More often we hear,” Dyer went on, “that people feel validated. They can feel some level of comfort even that people are noticing, because the flip side of that can be, ‘I’m having these difficulties, and no one is noticing,’ which can feel very isolating.”

3. Reach Out

There are a plethora of different organizations and people to reach out to in the case of an emergency. If you or a friend feel that you are a danger to yourself or others, you should call for professional help.

1-888-407-8018 is the number for the Eastern Shore Crisis Response and Resources Helpline.

1-800-273-TALK (8255) is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Even just calling 911, the SU Police (410-543-6222) or the Salisbury Police (833-SBY-CITY (729-2489)) could help.

Anyone within first response training is trained and equipped to help in a mental health crisis.

Once again: You. Are. Not. Alone. There are people all around you who would drop everything for you. You are loved and people do care about you. You are never alone if you don’t want to be. This is especially true in the age of social media.

And for others, check in on your friend every once in a while. Send a text, Snapchat, Instagram, Tweet, etc. just to say “hey” and let them know that you’re thinking about them. A simple text can go a long way, and a lot further than you realize.

Stay strong and stay safe.



Staff writer

Featured photo from iStockimages.

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