This archived article was written by: Jan Thornton
According to a study released in Archives of General Psychiatry, almost half of college-aged individuals experienced a psychiatric disorder in the past year. The study further noted that the rates of diagnosable disorders did not change between individuals attending college and their peers who are not enrolled in college.
Unfortunately, the study results also indicated that fewer than 25 percent of individuals with a mental disorder sought treatment. To put these numbers in perspective, it is likely that more than 300 of our students here at CEU are experiencing a diagnosable mental health disorder and are not in treatment.
What keeps them from seeking treatment? Undeniably, significant misconceptions about mental illness continue to exist and for individuals with a diagnosable disorder, stigma is one of the greatest obstacles to seeking treatment. Some beliefs that contribute to stigma include: people with mental illness are just making it up; they brought it on themselves; and they are a danger to others.
For individuals who are experiencing a diagnosable disorder, the cost of stigma is often devastating. It frequently isolates them and keeps them from staying in treatment.
So what can be done? We need to examine our own attitudes about mental illness. We can also improve our knowledge about mental illnesses. But we shouldn’t stop there. If we know someone who is experiencing a mental illness, we should encourage them to seek treatment on or off campus and be supportive of their efforts to get help.
If you are the individual experiencing a mental illness, here are some ways you can cope with stigma: Surround yourself with supportive people and tell those people how they can support you and seek treatment. Our campus provides students with eight free counseling sessions. If you need help, the counseling office can be reached at 613-5326 or in the SAC building room 118.