Mental health and mental health awareness is a social justice issue just as much as it is a healthcare issue. The start of May marked the month for mental health awareness across the United States. Coincidentally, it lands during a time when students are especially experiencing the emotional turmoil induced by approaching deadlines and final exams.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 46.6 million adults in the United States experience mental illness during any given year, and one in five people between the ages of 13 and 18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. The numbers are especially disproportionate in regards to people of color and those who come from low-income backgrounds. According to TIME, millennials and GenZ individuals have definitely experienced the rise of mental illness and suicide rate in comparison to their elder generations.
It isn’t surprising when we are the generation that’s grown up witnessing anti-semitic motivated mass shootings, separation of families at the border and cyberbullying. It doesn't help either when the 24-hour news cycle is constantly shoving bad news in our faces through our phone screens.
It's apparent that something needs to be done about this epidemic in order to foster the healthy growth of our current and up-and-coming generations, but there should also be a serious focus on improving the accessibility for psychological care, specifically for LGBTQ+ people, people of color and low-income communities. Largely due to stigmas and the white-centric nature of medicine, "25 percent of African-Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40 percent of whites," according to McLean Harvard Medical school affiliate.
This statistic should be taken into account when considering the generation of today. To combat the stigmas and lack of diversity in mental health, mental health services shouldn't only seem available for white upper-class individuals living in Los Angeles. These standards of diversity and accessibility for mental health should apply for all communities across the nation. A person of color experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of racial discrimination won't be able to be assisted to their fullest potential by a white therapist. A single mother with children in a low-income community who suffers from anxiety or depression is less likely to afford or prioritize her mental health as opposed to a heteronormative family.
Mental health does not discriminate, but the systems in place that facilitate the approach to mental health inherently do. Acknowledging that fact requires action to change it, whether that be through awareness, infiltration of these spaces or practicing and individual self-care.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, LMU has various spaces to look to for support. LMU Community of Care in Malone Student Center 301 has information on sexual prevention and consent. Student Psychological Services (SPS) is located on the second floor on the north side of the Burns Recreation Center, and the pastoral counseling service through campus ministry in Malone 210 is available to assist in spiritual development.
This is the opinion of Robyn De Leon, a sophomore English and Spanish major from Thousand Oaks, CA. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to the firstname.lastname@example.org.