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EDITORIAL: Focus on your mental health

Students should seek help early, share experiences to combat psychiatric stigmas


This photo illustration was a part of Design Editor Nate Morrison’s senior graphic design capstone project on the stigma surrounding mental illness, specifically depression and suicide.

How is your mental health?

That’s a question we at Central Michigan Life will continue to ask Central Michigan University students each year at different times in both the fall and spring semesters. It’s why we’ve dedicated two cover stories within the last year to mental health advocacy and ways students can seek treatment.

We believe success at CMU isn’t necessarily measured in grades or how rich your social experience was. It is measured by students accomplishing great things against incredible odds.

For students with a mental illness, that measure of success can be as simple as getting through the day. The first steps in combating a treatable mental health diagnosis, however, are the knowledge and acceptance of having one.

We realize asking for help can be one of the bravest things to do for someone with mental health concerns. We ask students to seek help immediately if they feel like their lives are spinning out of control. If something is amiss with your thoughts or feelings, addressing those issues head on is the only way to make it better.

There are plenty of options to seek help on campus, including psychiatric services through CMU’s Counseling Center. Be steadfast and follow through with consistent treatments, whether that’s with talk therapy or psychologist-prescribed medications.

Suffering silently adds to the pressure of managing life and school stressors. Dealing with unknown internal forces at the same time only serves to bog down the mind with more worry and anxiety.

That’s why we’ve made it a point this year to publish a mental health cover story from a student perspective. These stories resonate with other students with similar issues. They are also relatable for people without a mental illness, and that may be one of the most important tools we have to combat mental health stigmas.

Allowing students to see what it means to have a mental illness ultimately leads to a greater understanding of mental health care as a whole. It allows students who need a proper diagnosis to seek help without feeling abnormal.

Getting help and admitting you have a problem does not make you weak. It makes you strong. And with each step toward stability, you will continue to get stronger.

We must continue to fight the negative stereotypes surrounding mental illness. That starts with young people who have found peace of mind to come forward and share their experiences.

It also starts with greater access to care on campus. We know that CMU has struggled through the years accommodating the needs of students who are desperate for a listening ear. Long wait times and a slew of unsubstantiated student horror stories prevented some students from getting help at the Counseling Center altogether.

Despite those challenges, CMU recognized and actively worked to alleviate its institutional barriers to mental health care. Wait times are still a challenge, but university health staff are working harder to ensure that students receive assistance faster.

Counseling Center Director Ross Rapaport said he is requesting more counselors for his department. We hope that Rapaport’s request is accepted, even in the face of looming budget cuts. More counselors are a human commodity that is sorely needed if Rapaport and his staff are to meet upticks in students seeking services.

The upticks mean students are seeing the value of seeking treatment before diagnoses become unmanageable. The university must continue to support, bolster and expand its mental health services on campus.

As finals approach and a new year brings a whole other set of personal and academic challenges, we ask that students evaluate their thoughts and feelings.

If you feel overwhelmed, stop and ask yourself a simple question: How is your mental health?