By: Kevin McLane
Let’s talk. These two words tend to draw a negative connotation when heard by most people. A kid never wants to hear that from a parent, no one wants to hear it from their significant other, and God forbid anyone reading this has to hear it from their doctor. However, for someone who struggles with mental illness, those two words can be the difference between life and death.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 25 adults in the United States suffer from severe mental illness each year. For those of you reading this that would be like walking into any given class and someone in that room is quietly suffering from mental illness. When people hear the phrase “mental illness,” their minds automatically go to depression. While depression is the most well known, mental illness is so much more than just depression. People can be affected by anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anger management issues, eating disorders, self image issues, and any number of issues related to those.
Few people feel comfortable talking about this subject, however, there is one company in Canada that tries to speak for those too scared to talk. Bell telephone company started a campaign on social media called “#BellLetsTalk.” For every tweet and for every retweet with the hashtag “BellLetsTalk”, Bell company donates 5 cents to mental health awareness. January 25th was the annual “Let’s Talk” day. Celebrities and companies alike took to twitter to let everyone who suffers that people notice, that they are not alone.
In our very own school we have programs designed to help those at risk or in need. After talking to Mrs. Caves, the junior and senior guidance counselor, I learned about the Student Assistance Program (SAP). SAP is used to identify students who may be having trouble involving social life, emotional, educational, and or drugs and alcohol. Seton also employs a third counselor, Mr. Trecki who works side by side with Mrs. Caves and Mr. Zugates to help any and all at risk students.
Secondly, we also have the optional Teen Screen. Teen Screen is a trademarked program created by Columbia University. It is a computer program that asks students questions about their personal life. The program will flag any concerning answers and the report will be delivered to an independent counselor from Outreach Teen and Family Services. This program is completely anonymous. Mrs. Caves sends out an information sheet to each family and the parents can decide whether or not to send their kids to get screened.
Lastly, if you are concerned about a fellow student and don’t feel that you can approach them or their guardians about it, you can email either Mr. Zugates or Mrs. Caves and they will look into it all while keeping your name completely anonymous
Finally, to everyone struggling with any form of mental illness and see no happy end in sight, Just know that you are remembered, you are loved, and we notice you. Never feel ashamed of who you are, what you feel, or what’s going on. Never be afraid to ask for help. Remember that the fact you’re still fighting means you have more strength than you know. So for all of you struggling… Let’s talk.