A note from The Horizon about mental illness awareness

A note from The Horizon  about mental illness awareness

Editorial Board

Most of us care about our health. We regularly go to the doctor, watch our weight, try to eat right and even sometimes exercise. Often the last thing on our minds, ironically, is our mental health.

This week, Oct. 5-11, is Mental Illness Awareness Week across the nation. Mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is “a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.” This includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

College students are particularly at risk for developing some of these illnesses.

According to NAMI, one in four college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the last 12 months. More than 10 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression and more than 80 percent say they feel overwhelmed by the workload that college requires. Most concerning is that these conditions may not end with graduation, as 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by the age of 24.

One of the fastest growing mental illnesses is PTSD. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have begun coming home in the past year and, according to the PTSD Foundation of America, one in three are being diagnosed with PTSD symptoms.

Less than 40 percent seek help for their illness.

Some attempt suicide, but most go back to work, school and their families, choosing to suffer in silence.

A small sample survey in 2012 found that about 6.3 percent of the IU Southeast student population has had some sort of military background.

But you don’t have to have been in a warzone to experience PTSD. Natural disasters, sudden emotional loss, serious accidents, and sexual or physical assault or abuse can all trigger symptoms of PTSD.

What all of this means is that it is almost certain that you, or one of your classmates, is or has suffered from a mental illness.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, The Horizon has dedicated a special section of our coverage in this issue and on our website to exploring the causes, symptoms and struggles of mental illness, in particular PTSD. By telling our fellow students’ stories, and our own, we hope to create a dialogue that will enable others to gain a better understanding of the challenges of mental illness and possibly allow those who are suffering in the shadows to seek the help they deserve.

Mental Health Series