How many times have you openly heard people tell you they struggle with depression and are not afraid to admit it? Has your circle of friends ever talked about struggles they may have with mental health issues, asking for support and advice? When someone mentions the word “addiction” do people seem to recoil from the thought or instead wonder what it means and how to talk about it?
Mental health issues are common among college students and yet so often they are brushed to the side and not addressed because of the stigma around them. Dealing with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or self-harm is not a casual coffee-table conversation.
Unfortunately, it is a topic that is too often shamed out of public knowledge and leaves those struggling in the area of mental health feeling alone, lost and helpless. When people dealing with mental health issues feel they are judged for their struggles or that they are the only ones dealing with such things, it can prevent growth and personal rehabilitation.
This can be especially common at busy universities, such as California Baptist University, where many students are heavily involved in campus life and seem to have their lives together. No one wants to be the odd one out dealing with deeper personal struggles that seem so alienated from the public discussion.
This is why mental health struggles need to be publicly addressed. Those dealing with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addictions or suicidal thoughts need to know that it is OK to struggle and they are not alone.
As Christians, we are called to show love, kindness and understanding to the people around us. This needs to be applied to those dealing with mental health issues, as well.
Rather than withdrawing ourselves from opportunities to hear someone’s story about depression or fearing a conversation about addictions, we should be eager to show those struggling they can openly share their pain with the people around them.
We need to make ourselves available to listen without judgment and develop an open heart to struggles we may not personally experience. We need to encourage people who may be dealing with internal mental struggles not to despair but to know it is perfectly normal and there are ways they can seek help.
Recovery starts with being able to admit the issue is there in the first place, which is why the fear of openly discussing this topic needs to be obliterated. When we can openly share our struggles and discuss them it aids the recovery process and stops people from feeling alone and helpless.
CBU has resources for anyone struggling with mental health issues. Students are encouraged to reach out to the Counseling Center, even if their struggles may seem small at the moment.