Feeling blue? Is mental illness affecting students?
Whilst it's true that mental illness among young people isn't necessarily the hidden secret that nobody talks about anymore, it can still be the elephant in the room and there’s plenty of stigma surrounding them.
Unfortunately, mental illness often get a bad rep. School shootings, for example, when they’re not being blamed (narrow mindedly) on video games, get blamed on young people suffering from some illness or other. Whilst the fact that they are ill may be almost categorically true in these instances, it doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that you can attribute all inflictions of violence down to an illness, as that’s just too simplistic. Nor can you say everyone with these types of illness are a danger to others – they’re not, and implying that is even more dangerous than anything else, as it may prevent much needed dialogues among those suffering. And of course, being ill in any resect is never an excuse. Often with the aforementioned, catastrophic types of events like mass shootings, there are also cultural or societal problems at play, combined with other factors such as upbringing and even misogyny or racism, which can lead to tragedy. To blame only one factor is absurd and offensive to all affected.
It’s often difficult to get people to understand when they’ve not experienced something themselves. After all, a lot of the time, no physical symptoms present themselves with illnesses like this. Although they indeed can cause outward symptoms, it’s not like cancer, where there are very specific tests and treatments in place. Just as the body isn’t functioning quite right when it inflicts a disease onto someone, there’s often some sort of imbalance causing mental illness, too, but that doesn’t mean anyone’s at fault.
It’s sometimes easy to say that people in the depths of despair thrive on attention for mental illnesses, but IF that’s ever true, this in itself is testimony to why we need more people to open up, so that more people understand. That way, those being conditioned to think it doesn’t get better know that it in fact does, and those taking advantage of the situation out of ignorance will also learn from it.
If you're suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, addiction, an eating disorder or any other of the untold amounts of serious illnesses people can’t always see here in student accommodation, remember, you're not alone. There are plenty of people you can talk to on campus and elsewhere. Contrary to the recent publicity campaigns, you don't have to go public with it either. You can say as little or as much as you like to other people, without feeling the need to justify yourself to your peers. Such publicity around the illnesses can be empowering, sure, but to others, they can feel overwhelming – not everyone is ready to tell their side of the story.
No matter how you feel, or whatever you’re going through though, all university help is strictly confidential (unless it’s felt your life is at risk). Sometimes, it’s good to have someone to talk to.
Posted on 4th August 2014 by Claire L.
Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.