Mental Health Needs More Awareness




Mental illness, despite its prevalence in the United States, doesn’t have nearly as much awareness as it should. Especially during this pandemic, it is easy to neglect your mental health. Luckily, organizations such as Sophrosyne Mental Health and Plannr Counseling are here to help people learn about mental health and get help with coping.

Anxiously turning on the TV, you dread watching the news that highlights the rising death tolls, the situation worsening day by day, and the apparent gloom seeping through everyone’s home. Time slips away as you lose count of how many days you have been in quarantine. You fear for yourself, your loved ones, and your friends. You wonder how you can make peace with the fact everyone is unsure of what will happen, and whether there will be a day where life can resume as it once did. Thoughts and feelings similar to these are just some of the symptoms of a mental illness. 

Mental health issues are quickly becoming a nationwide problem. According to Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing mental health awareness and reducing the stigma around it, one in five US adults and one in six US youth aged six to 17 experience mental illness every year. However these are only the reported cases- there are also many people who simply go through their lives without reporting their illness or being diagnosed because they are too scared to reach out for help. In fact, Mental Illness Policy Org estimates that close to half of Americans with mental illnesses are not getting treated. Furthermore, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34. Mental health issues have gone so far as to cause death, and there is barely any conversation about them. Mental illnesses clearly affect a significant number of people in the United States and something needs to be done to stop them and increase awareness. 

Despite the horrifying statistics and environment surrounding mental health illnesses, there have not been as many organizations as there should be to support the mental health awareness movement. However, some youth across the world are stepping up and creating groups to support the mental health movement. For example, Sophrosyne Mental Health, started and led by Emily Weinberg from Massachusetts, has been making incredible strides towards increasing mental health awareness. The organization has started a mental health rally, which had to be converted to a virtual format due to COVID-19. In the midst of a pandemic, the organization has been able to make incredible progress to support Mental Health Awareness Month.

Another organization founded by students at Westwood is Plannr Consulting. Plannr Consulting is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on 3 main factors: increasing awareness of mental health issues, offering free student to student consultations in an aim to reduce stress for students, and creating a community so that students can have a platform to talk to other students. Furthermore, the organization has also started a blog entitled Mind Garden to discuss the stigma around mental health illnesses as well as a merch line.

While the coronavirus pandemic looms over the world like a dark cloud, engulfing opportunities and halting societal peace, it is immensely easy to fall into a spiral of mental health issues. All the worrying, anxiety, and stress that are conjured from every aspect of the pandemic have the potential to and cause new issues or trigger pre-existing ones. And that is why now, more than ever, it is crucial that people find a way to preserve their mental health. Even though we are forced to be at home, physically apart from friends and loved ones, that doesn’t mean we have to feel alone or unheard. This can mean taking some time to practice self care and mindfulness, talking over the phone with friends or family members, or doing anything that makes you feel happy. 

Moreover, not only is it important to preserve our mental health during a global pandemic, self care should be something that we incorporate into our lives every day. When we practice it, we become more mindful, more productive, and are able to function to the best of our abilities. Hopefully, we carry a reminder of how to take better care of ourselves in the future with us from this time. As of now, we can choose to see the brighter light in this situation. For example, journaling, meditation, yoga, music, and holding fun spa days are just some of the ways to practice self care.

Mental health issues should not be something that anyone should have to suffer through alone. It is crucial that we realize the importance of it and how much it matters so that we can make the world a kinder, safer place. Organizations, like Sophrosyne Mental Health and Plannr Consulting, are already hard at work spreading mental health awareness and trying to reduce the stigma around mental health illnesses. By working together, we can create a large impact and eradicate the stigma around mental health issues as well as support loved ones around us. You can join the mental health movement by starting or joining a mental health youth organization, making a donation, or simply by following and interacting with the mental health movement online.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, stress, or emotional challenges, you can call the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s COVID-19 mental health support line at 833-986-1919 or learn more by accessing this website.