Not to be ignored: Mental health matters

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor  Ω

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Illness Awareness Week took place from Oct. 1 to 7.

The World Federation for Mental Health’s (WFMH) World Mental Health Day takes place on Oct. 10.

For students on campuses across the country and around the world, mental illness and mental health should be of concern year-round.

With heavy course loads, part- or full-time employment and extra-curricular activities, students don’t exactly lead the most carefree or stress-free lives. Pile on the additional stress of student debt, relationship anxiety and even a poor diet and you’ve concocted a pretty darn poisonous stew that can eat away at the mental well-being of even the strongest individuals.

Depression: A Global Crisis, is the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

According to literature released by the WFMH, depression can be a result of anxiety and at its worst can lead to suicide.

Check out these scary facts about depression and suicide: According the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 million lives end due to suicide in a given year, translating into 3,000 suicide-caused deaths per day.

Another shocking statistic that comes from WHO — for every person who commits suicide, 20 more may attempt to end their life.

Depression is such a serious and widespread mental illness that WHO actually considers it the leading cause of disability worldwide.

When boiling down the issue to university campuses it is easy to see the impact it has on students.

The National College Health Assessment (NCHA), Spring 2000, indicated that 10.3 per cent of college students (6.2 per cent male and 12.8 per cent female) reported having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their life.

For the purposes of the study, 15,977 students were sampled across 28 different American university campuses.

Those are alarming numbers. The most up-to-date enrollment on TRU’s website states that student enrollment at the Kamloops campus (part-time and full-time students) in 2007-08 was 10,588. If one were to use the NCHA assessment and apply it to TRU, that means 1,091 students on TRU campus would be suffering from depression.

To put that number in perspective, you could fill Heroes more than five times with all of those people.

Considering the time of the semester and the fact that mid-term season is approaching if not already here, it’s crucial for students to not only be self-aware but also observant of their peers and friends.

This will sort of drag back to my column from last week, “Appreciation simplified.”

One of the best things any person can do to help out a friend potentially suffering from depression is to be a listening ear. WFMH indicates that one of the most important supports for a person struggling with anxiety and mental illness is that of family and friends.

I’m not a medical doctor, so don’t consider this professional advice.

Simply put, look out for your fellow classmates. Something as simple as asking about someone’s day or taking time to have a little vent session can make a bigger difference than you might believe.

That being said, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help if you find yourself struggling or witness a classmate going through a rough patch.

A comprehensive PDF on WMHF World Health Day and depression can be found at http://www.wfmh.org/00WorldMentalHealthDay.htm.

Important contact information for on-campus services:

TRU Counselling: 250-828-5023 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

TRU Wellness Centre: 250-828-5010

Mental Health Kamloops: 250-377-0088

Mental Health 24-hour toll-free line: 1-866-661-3311

TRU campus doctor: 250-828-5126 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

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