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Mental health awareness week challenges stigma on ASU campus

PET aims to combat the stigma surrounding mental health issues facing ASU students.

A sign on Palm Walk advertises ASU Health Services is pictured on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
A sign on Palm Walk advertises ASU Health Services is pictured on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

There is a perception in our society that college students today are fragile, weak-minded and faint-of-heart.

The narrative is the same: Mental health issues are becoming increasingly pervasive on college campuses across the country as social media, politically correct culture or trigger warnings are responsible for students' fragility.

It should be noted, however, that while more students are seeking help for mental health issues, the claims that this increase results from the coddling of the millennial generation are largely unfounded and anecdotal.

Despite the lack of evidence to back up the current climate of victim-blaming which surrounds student mental health, it’s important to acknowledge that whether or not mental health is going through a global-warming of sorts, there are significant problems facing students today that are only compounded by prevailing opinion. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death for college-aged students after unintentional injury. Depression symptoms are reported by 44 percent of college students. Nearly one in five students contemplate or attempt suicide. 

Yet, as a society we muzzle the dialogue on mental health, and that is only exacerbating the problem. 

As the generation raised on Harry Potter, we need to acknowledge that to resolve mental health issues and the stigma that surround them, we will have to invoke our inner Hermoine Granger and promote dialogue on mental health, because "fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

In recognition of the issues plaguing student mental health, ASU’s Psychology Engagement Team is hosting Mental Health Awareness Week this week (April 4-8).

On the SunDevilSync event site, PET states, “Due to the amount of mental health issues experienced by students, we felt that there should be a week dedicated to improving the state of student mental health, campus-wide.”

Events range anywhere from games and yoga to discussions on PTSD and suicide.

With the prevailing stigma associated with mental health issues and the variety of concerns facing students, efforts like those by PET to appeal to students with diverse backgrounds and distinct needs should be applauded.

While PET would, of course, love to resolve mental health problems for students this week with their lineup of events, they are well aware that these problems are deeply engrained in our societal psyche and will require tectonic shifts in the playing field to resolve them.

Psychology sophomore Brianna Farrier, who is acutely passionate about mental health on campus and a member of PET, said that the immediate goals for the week are to both raise awareness and reduce stigma in hopes that institutions at play will ultimately heed notice.

The State Press Editorial Board supports these goals fully because when suicide is the second leading cause of mortality for college-aged students, this is literally a matter of life and death.

In line with Farrier’s reasoning, we would like to see mental health regarded with equal importance as physical health both on ASU’s campuses and across the country.

Organizations need to put their money where their mouths are if they intend to make actionable change because currently, many states across the country lack the funds required to serve all student’s needs.

If we as a society don’t wake up to the fact that this problem is apparent, then we are writing off part of our countries future.


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