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Mental Health 101

DETAILS

Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.

Mental illness is a disorder that affects a person's thinking, feeling, or mood. It affect's how someone can relate to others, perform at work or school, or enjoy things they once used to.

  • Experiencing a mental illness is not a result of one event and it's not a debate of nature versus nurture. In truth, it's a little bit of both. We can have genetic predispositions to certain things (like diabetes or anxiety) but every person has a different level of environmental factors or lifestyle influences that will play a part in their mental health experience as well.
  • Even if two people have the same diagnosis, they will have different experiences. Mental illness is extremely individual.

1 in 5 Americans will have a mental health issue this year. 1 in 4 will have experience with mental health, whether in the past or with a loved one. You are not alone!

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide - mental health and mental health challenges are experienced across the world, across all genders, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, you get the picture.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 18-24. But, suicide is preventable. There is always another option for feeling better.
  • 67% of college students first tell a friend they are feeling suicidal before telling anyone else. Being a mental health ally and friend can save a life.

Being a mental health ally can help others or even save a life! Changing the conversation about mental health encourages others to take care of themselves, ask for help when they need it, or make positive changes. By talking to one another and connecting over our shared experiences, we can live happier and healthier lives.

HOMEWORK

We can support our own mental health and wellbeing by building healthy habits, like:

  • Maintaining a healthy body through exercise, nutrition, and proper sleep
  • Building positive relationships and connecting with others
  • Managing stress with coping mechanisms and self care (like mindfulness, positive thinking, healthy boundaries, etc.)

There are many ways to be a mental health ally! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Be mindful of your language! Don't call the weather "bipolar". Try to not use the word "crazy". Challenge yourself and your friends to expand your vocabulary and be an ally.
  • Ask your friends how they are really doing. Listen with empathy. You don't need to solve someone else's problems, just be there for them.
  • Be a person that others can go to for help! Educate yourself and your friends. Encourage others that being mentally healthy is brave, cool, bad ass.

While there are many different kinds of mental health conditions, there are some basic warning signs you or a loved one may be experiencing a mental health challenge. Those include:

  • Excessive worrying or feeling low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Changes in school performance
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities
  • Prolonged feelings of irritability or extreme mood changes

If you or someone you love are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are places to find more information or get help. Visit our Get Help page for those options.

CITE YOUR SOURCES

There are great resources out there to help you learn more about mental health. Here are some places to get started:

The JED Foundation's Resource Center

You can get help immediately online, learn how to help yourself or a friend, learn more about emotional well-being, and learn about specific types of mental illness.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI is the nation's largest nonprofit supporting mental illness. You can learn the warning signs, mental health by the numbers, and learn more about treatment options, research, and public policy.

Active Minds

Active Minds works to change the rhetoric about mental illness and promote suicide prevention and awareness across schools nationwide. You can learn more about signs and symptoms, crisis information, and self care on their site or by connecting to your school's club.