“I promise…I’m not crazy”. Those were the words that left my mouth as tears flowed down my face and people entered my ER room. I had suffered an emotional breakdown. It was a culmination of traumatic events: the disappointment of not graduating on time, the pressure of juggling 21 credits, involvement in multiple campus organizations, and a part time job led to the moment that would change my life forever.
I hid what I was going through because I felt alone. I felt like I would be judged. I felt like it would be a sign of weakness. I feared I’d be viewed as “crazy”. But the truth is, I was not alone. According to recent studies, cases of mental illness among college students have become increasingly more serious over the last decade. “Depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental health problems students confront”, says John MacPhee, executive director of the Jed Foundation, which oversees the website ULifeline.org (a resource center for students dealing with emotional issues). “The second leading cause of death among college students is suicide, which accounts for about 1,100 deaths per year on campuses”, says MacPhee. The number one killer is accidents, which include accidental overdoses and drinking and driving deaths, many of which might be linked to depression or anxiety.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-old Black Americans. Additionally, Black college students have been shown to attempt suicide more often than their White counterparts.
It’s imperative to know and recognize mental illness symptoms and seek a diagnosis if needed. The utilization of therapy and/or medication can allow for one to properly function and thrive. As a community, we can see a serious decrease in these statistics if (instead of stigmatizing mental health) we begin to support those who are suffering and take full advantage of available resources.
Are you aware of where the counseling center is located on your campus? If not, ask an administrator or check your school’s website. Many of the services are free and regularly available to students. There are also websites and online communities like PsychCentral and ULifeline that provide access to research and contact information for professionals. Lastly, more and more people are beginning to start supportive organizations. Bassey Ikpi, writer and mental health advocate, founded The Siwe Project, a global non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the global black community.
Thankfully, after my hospitalization, I had a wonderful circle of friends that I was able to confide in, I was able to reach out to professors and I began seeking professional treatment. Stress and pressure may be a part of the college experience, but death, failure, and hopelessness don’t have to be. You aren’t “crazy”. You are human, you are needed, and you are not alone.
Live HOPE. Give HOPE.
Kenya D. Morris
About the Author
Kenya D. Morris is a nonprofit and communications professional that hails from Los Angeles and currently resides of Silver Spring, MD. As a self-proclaimed “life enthusiast”, she prides herself in learning, exploring, and taking advantage of new opportunities daily. When she isn’t busy writing poetry, performing in dramatic productions, doing make up, or focusing on community outreach, you can probably find her screaming at her TV over a Lakers or Cowboys game, eating dessert, or tweeting her life away. More info can be found at www.kenyad.com.