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Why is mental health not treated like physical health?

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/SPECTATOR

Written by Olivia Studdard, Staff Writer

Two girls walk into a hospital, both with legitimate medical concerns. One tells the nurse that she fell down and broke her arm, the other says that she suffers from depression and is on the verge of a mental breakdown. Yet the hospital only treats one of the girls.

Society makes it no mystery which of these girls was treated and which was sent away.

Of all of the factors taking away from college student’s focus on academics, stress and anxiety weigh in at a whopping 52 percent while physical injury is a small two percent.

The problem that many people with mental illnesses face nowadays is inadequate care when it is needed most. However, the stigma that surrounds illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bulimia, and PTSD is that they are caused by a negative mindset, rather than a list of variable symptoms interrupting the individual’s day to day life.

One of the factors that make them so hard to catch is that they are often suppressed. The girl with anxiety may seem like one of the most confident people. The boy with depression might have the biggest smile. The soldier suffering from PTSD might excel at his or her job. It is nearly impossible to look at a person and determine who is trapped in their minds.

Fact is, while one in three students has prolonged depression, and one in four students admits to feeling suicidal during college, only seven percent of suffering college students will report to the counselling center of their university for help.

What’s more is that 30 percent of college students reported problems with school work due to a mental health issue.

The numbers are terrifying, but even more frightening is knowing that there are thousands of these students walking around VSU, students with little to no work ethic as well as students with perfectionism. You never know who is suffering silently.

The only way to fix this problem is to simply talk about it. What might happen if talking about mental illnesses became the norm, instead of treating the topic like a social pariah?

Sadness is that maybe if we began treating mental illnesses as we treat physical illnesses and developed treatments to fight these rising numbers, perhaps one day the hospital would have to treat both girls as equal risk for higher injury.

Talk about it. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. Talk about it. Even if you aren’t someone suffering. Talk about it. Even if the world tells you to stop. Do it for your friends, your classmates, and maybe even for yourself. Talk about it.


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One comment

  1. —Why is mental health not treated like physical health?

    That decision was made so long ago, no one seems to be aware of it: We divided health care into two separate and highly unequal issues early in our history and continue to cling to it.

    Some inroads are being made in to altering that. The hope is that eventually health care will be integrated into a single unit, governed by a single ethic.

    —“the stigma” that surrounds illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bulimia, and PTSD

    It is a remnant of that inequality, separation:Words often reveal our prejudices.

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