TO THE EDITOR:
Having a family member with a mental illness is more than a challenge; it’s a motivator. Witnessing my loved one’s courage in the face of underestimation has served as evidence of the amazing things mental health consumers can achieve.
Yet widespread misconceptions and unfounded fears still limit educational, employment, insurance, treatment and housing opportunities for this population.
On college campuses, suicide is the second leading cause of death, with untreated depression being the main cause. Yet often without meaning any harm, we alienate those who are going through these challenges by saying things like “Did you take your meds today?” and “This weather is so bipolar.”
This Saturday, 35 UNC students have made a commitment to stopping the stigma and taboo surrounding mental illnesses. Rethink: Psychiatric Illness is UNC’s first ever mental health skills training. Sponsored by the Department of Housing and the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, it will take place this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Graham Memorial.
The free training will empower students to become mental health advocates through several interactive activities such as a group member’s personal story, trivia and small group discussions.
With one in four American adults experiencing mental illness each year, this is an issue that affects all of us. Through forums like Rethink, we hope to build a network of allies and advocates that will make UNC an affirming environment for all of us.
Viviana Bonilla Lopez ’14
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