More than one in four adults over 18 years of age in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml). Individuals struggling with mental illnesses often feel stigmatized or too embarrassed to share their personal struggles with friends or family members. Winter months bring cold weather and shorter days, which often increases feelings of depression or other mental illness. Mental illnesses are very complex and may be triggered by many causes, but individuals must remind themselves that they are not alone in their struggles. If you are experiencing sadness, depression, anxiety, or other mental health difficulties, try to talk about your feelings with a close friend or family member. You may be surprised to realize that they experience similar feelings or have dealt with them in the past. Acknowledging your emotions and sharing them with someone may give you some relief or a new perspective on your life.
If you are approached by a friend to talk about mental health, try to remain as patient as possible. Patience is a true virtue for individuals trying to help loved ones struggling with a mental illness. Remember that your support is invaluable to the individual, but be careful to acknowledge your own health and personal boundaries. If you feel unable to help an individual struggling with mental health, provide them with resources where they may find professional help. Located in Smith Hall, the UNH Counseling Center provides daily appointments to UNH students, free of charge. Their phone number is 603-862-2090. Individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention hotline 24/7 at 800-273-TALK (8255). Whatever you do, do not keep your struggles to yourself. Realize that help is available to support you through whatever life may bring. Let’s start showing our support for each other through conversation and eliminate the social stigmas against those struggling with mental health difficulties.