Eckert: Know your mental health, options for treatment

Student Mind

Mental health has been a social topic that is much too frequently put on the back burner. Millions of people suffer from mental illness not only in America, but across the world. Mental illness affects people of all ages, races and cultural backgrounds. It can be passed down genetically, developed from traumatic experiences or develop as a result of other environmental factors. If gone untreated, not only the sufferer, but also friends, family and loved ones will be affected.

There are many different types of mental illness, from mild learning disorders, to anxiety and depression, to much more serious and difficult illnesses like multi-personality disorder or bipolar disorder. Regardless of the severity, all mental illnesses need to be treated and cared for. No one should be forced, or allowed, to deal with mental illness alone. On campus we have many different outlets for help. Some of these include University Health Services (UCS), University Counselling Services and Educational Services for Students. If you are or know someone that is struggling with mental illness, do not hesitate. Offer to help in anyway you can, from talking to them, offering to help sign them up for counselling or even just letting them know that you care. When it comes to mental illness, a little bit goes a long way.

Some common misconceptions about mental illness include a long list of generalizations and exaggerated symptoms. Yes, some people have serious mental illness, but they aren’t “crazy.” It’s not their fault that they suffer from this horrible epidemic. Not all people are affected the same way, and they shouldn’t be treated the same way either. Each individual person has their own unique problems when it comes to mental illness and all sufferers must be approached with a “blank palate” when it comes to treatment. There are thousands, if not millions, of perfectly “normal” functioning people that suffer from some form of mental illness.

Mental illness doesn’t just strike you down one day like lightning and then you go to an asylum. Mental illness can develop over time or from one single instance. People that suffer from mental illness may not even realize it, but have extremely strong coping methods. Others may be much more severely affected by a “lesser” illness. Everyone is different, so don’t generalize and cause people to feel unimportant.

Treatment methods range from a variety of counselling and therapy methods to strong prescription drugs and even more unconventional methods like shock treatment. Regardless of your mental health situation, counselling and therapy can be very relaxing and refreshing. I highly recommend taking advantage of the services offered on campus at UCS.

Other treatments include antidepressants and as-needed anxiety medicine, which are used to help regulate the chemical imbalances in the brain that are causing the feelings of sadness or anxiety. Some sufferers need more medication for more serious illnesses or much more severe cases. In general, schizophrenia is more serious than anxiety, but in other cases that could be flipped. Schizophrenia also requires different drugs than anxiety would because there are different imbalances, and therefore different treatment is required. As I mentioned previously, everyone is different and many illnesses have wide spectrums of severity.

Mental illness is not a joke and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is suffering from or even thinks they might be suffering from a mental health problem do not hesitate to seek help. Talk to a friend, family or faculty member. I’ve never met more caring and understanding people than the faculty at Case Western Reserve University. Don’t wait for it to get better, because even if it does, there is still an underlying problem. Anxiety and depression are very common this time of year and in college-aged people. If it persists, which is a telling sign that it’s more than the changing seasons, please seek help.

Mental health is serious, so treat it as such.

Brian Eckert is a first-year finance and economics double major.