Mental health is a very serious subject today and also very tricky to talk about. I’ve seen people take mental health as a joke and say how pointless it can be to go to therapy. I’ve recently been doing a study on addiction for a research paper and I have to admit that so far, I have learned more about mental health than I ever would have learned in a year. As a freshman college student, I tend to take mental health very seriously. I’ve seen countless stories in which college students commit suicide. We’ll never know what could’ve been troubling them on the inside because we are not them, but I’ve had some mental health problems in the past but nothing up to the suicidal scale. When I was a freshman in high school, a little girl at my school district’s middle school committed suicide due to bullying. But of course, it was brushed under the rug like all of the other suicides that have happened before that. I never understood why this was such a hard topic to talk about. It’s like all we do is say “thoughts and prayers go out to…” and then we move on.
First, I would love to start by giving some background information on who I am and my run-in with mental health in the past. When I grew up, I never had many friends because I was and still am an introvert. This also made me very skeptical of who I became friends with and who I let into my circle. As I entered sixth grade and joined band class, I thought I found a good potential friend group. We all had a common interest so why not? Obviously this progressed immensely as I went through middle school to high school. I thought I finally found a clique of friends that I liked and would have my back whenever, but as I started to become a senior, I realized that these people are garbage! Honestly, they were terrible friends and I realized this throughout high school. I am a very shy and nice person but they would take that for granted most of the time and walk all over me. It was hard to deal with and as I started to find my voice in high school and figure out who I truly am, they started to hate me. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve cried calling and talking to a friend that I thought had my back but to be honest, she wasn’t worth the tears. I realized later on with all of the police brutality happening, they would blatantly say the n word in a group chat that we were all in. Long story short, I realized that these people weren’t mentally growing as quick as me and that our friendship was more toxic rather than beneficial. So I had to learn to kick those trash people to the curb.
Now by no means am I a mental health expert at all, but I just can’t get over the fact that suicides happen so often nowadays and most of them could have been prevented. Then fast forward to my freshman year of college and another suicide happens at the beginning of the year. A student jumped off of a building and it almost seemed like that was that. Now, even though there are probably thousands of mental health initiatives on my large campus to help with these problems, people need to take the initiative to go to them first. But I went to what is called an F.Y.E. event. F.Y.E. basically stands for first year experience and for my class, we have to go to at least two of these events. They have a variety of topics that they talk about at these events but the ones that I scheduled to go to were about mental health. The name of this F.Y.E. event was called “Fight the Stigma”. I assumed that at this event, the speaker would talk about the negative stigma that surrounds mental health and how untalked about mental health is. I thought the speaker would shed some light on this topic and give us some ways to combat this stigma. I was terribly wrong. Instead of talking about this, she basically talked about the mental health initiatives that are already available on campus and apparently there is a negative stigma around the wait time to get seen by someone who can aid you in your mental health problems. I felt like this event was a complete waste of time and completely unnecessary. I couldn’t stand how there was such an informative topic to talk about but instead all we did was talk about some unusual stigma about the programs on campus? Because of a waitlists? Of course I left there knowing the available mental health initiatives provided on campus which is why I wouldn’t say that this event was terrible. But it didn’t really dive deep into the history of mental health and what effects your mental health the most. Even though I knew where to go, I could’ve just looked up these places on the university website.
What’s The Answer?
Now of course there is no clear answer on how to combat mental health because everyone is a different person but the most we can do is provide information not just on where to go for mental health, but what places you in the condition of having a mental health illness. I believe in this thing I like to call the Root of Thorns Method. If you chop off the root, then it is almost impossible for those thorns to grow back because they do not have a base to feed upon. I feel like if we start with the complications and work our way down to the basics like a funnel, it will be easier for us to filter out more problems. For example, the study I am doing for a symposium project is about the conditions it takes for your addiction rates to increase. Your likelihood of addiction can vary depending on environment, race, gender, and sex. I cover many topics about these factors and I even talk about something as basic as addiction vs. habit. I think it’s more important to know how we got to a problem rather than trying to formulate solutions that aren’t effective. If we can come up with solutions using the Root of Thorns Method, I truly believe that our solutions to mental health problems will be more efficient and less time consuming.
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