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Mental Health Awareness Week at College Prep

Students anonymously post their feelings, thoughts, and encouragement on the “Happiness Wall”. Photography by Deanna N.

Millions of people all over the world suffer from mental illnesses. To call attention to the battles fought by many, mental health advocates founded the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Both a support group and an informational source for the public, NAMI fights to help those across the country suffering from debilitating mental illnesses. As a response to these efforts, the US Congress officially designated the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). The purpose of MIAW is for those who aresuffering from mental illnesses to know they’re not alone, and supported by many.

Although it’s not clear what the primary causal factor is, mental illnesses have been connected to genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. As such, mental illnesses are difficult for a person to combat; it’s not just a matter of having the willpower or discipline to be able to eradicate it. With people having their own different, complex lives and experiences, mental illnesses cannot be generalized. With this present variability, recognizing and understanding what qualifies mental illness and how to combat it is all the more difficult. One in four adults experience mental illness in a given year according to NAMI. And, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 20% of adolescents and children, ranging from 13 to 18, experience severe mental disorders in a given year. However, these numbers do not account for all those who are not diagnosed, those who choose to suppress it, or those who just don’t have the ability or knowledge to recognize it. Mental Illness Awareness Week allows us to recognize those that are currently suffering from the effects of mental illness. Furthermore, MIAW attempts to counteract the “taboo” nature of mental health, and give the world a chance to see and understand how big of a role psychological illness plays in today’s society.

This past week, CPS recognized Mental Health Awareness Week on campus. MIAW is a means of support for not only those with mental disorders, but also for anyone affected by mental disorders. Senior Annie S. eloquently states, “everyone has to deal with stress, everyone faces adversity at some point, and everyone encounters sadness during their lives.” Each night during the week, Annie sent out an email giving more information about mental illness, as well as providing exercises and tools that benefit mental health in general. Some such exercises included writing down lists of things that we value and just simply telling others that they are appreciated for all the good that they do. With the introduction of Mental Illness Awareness Week onto the CPS campus, students had the ability to recognize the widespread struggles and learn how they can maintain not only their own mental health, but the health of others as well. Mental Illness Awareness Week has created a connection within the CPS community. If you look around, you don’t just see a bunch of students walking to and from class. These students are people that care about you. These students are people next to you that can help, along with others (family, friends, doctors, or teachers). Mental Illness Awareness Week has reminded us that you are not alone.

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