By Hannah Lockhart
I feel like we as humans and society all struggle with mental health. Mental health has
become more prevalent in today’s time. We are not as stigmatized or ashamed of as it was before.
I have had my own personal battles with mental health. I’ve had to deal with a lot of losses in
my life which I had struggled with. I think this has caused me to struggle with depression and
anxiety. I knew this was a problem for me because I was having more bad than good days. It
would be difficult for me to get out of bed, complete daily tasks, or even want to go out into
public and do activities that my friends or family would invite me to. I would want to do things
and spend time with my friends and family, but when I was actually in the moment, I just
wanted to be home and alone.
For me, I believe I noticed my anxiety before my depression. They usually come hand and hand. I personally went to see a doctor to talk to and see what may help me. My doctor recommended I go on medicine. I was hesitant about going on
medication because I always knew that I didn’t want to rely on a medication to make me happy
and function. I wanted to do it on my own. I was also hesitant because of the number of side
effects and adverse effects of the medication that my doctor was recommending for me. I did
some research online and talked to my family whom I trusted. It can be scary not knowing
how your body will react to a medication. After some time, I decided to try it and see what
happens. I knew that I could always come off of it if I needed or wanted to, that it wasn’t
permanent which I had some ease knowing. I was eventually able to come off of the medicine, and now I find myself much happier and having more good days than bad. I know that this is something a lot of people face, and it can be very difficult to overcome. Some people can overcome it and some can’t. Some people need medication to help them function daily, and it is
important for people to know that there is nothing wrong with that.
My story is not unique. The problem is that this is something that occurs all over the
world, across all age groups. Mental illness ranges from any mental, behavioral, or emotional
disorder. It can be mild, moderate, or serious. Mental illness in some cases ends in suicide. The
estimated number of adults that have serious suicidal thoughts is nearly 12 million. Mental
health is a major public health issue that often gets ignored or pushed to the side. Depression
and anxiety are two disorders where if you have one, you usually have the other. There are
many attributes as to why someone may suffer from depression and anxiety such as social media
and poor sleeping habits. I believe these were factors for me, especially social media. I often
compare myself to others on social media. It can be difficult to keep in mind that the majority
of people only post the highlights of their life which can make it easy to think that you are
behind or doing something wrong. Depression and anxiety are only a glimpse of the struggle in
the mental health world.
People were always ashamed to admit that they were dealing with a mental illness. Half of
the adults in the United States, nearly 26.7 million people, who have mental illness are without
treatment. Almost 5% are experiencing severe mental illness. Almost 11% of the youth in the
U.S. are suffering from major depression. People who battle with mental illness can often lead
to substance and alcohol abuse and even end up in jail or prison, which is not the place for
someone struggling with an illness. This could be why the prison population is large. Just over 4% of youth have reported having a substance disorder within the last year. Almost 2% had an alcohol disorder.
Safe Project is a nonprofit organization that is trying to solve the problem and end
mental health stigmas and discrimination. Admiral James and Mary Winnefeld founded SAFE
Project in November of 2017 after their 19-year-old son passed away from an accidental opioid
overdose. They wanted to seek treatment, get answers, and understand the nature of the disease,
and by doing this they could help other families who struggled with the same journey. SAFE
Project is a team of experts who are determined to take meaningful action through programs
with evidence-based efforts. Their goal is to achieve SAFE Communities, SAFE Campuses, SAFE
Workplaces, and SAFE Veterans. They have many resources for drug use and addiction,
treatment and recovery, and resources for specific communities.
Upon reaching out, you will be connected to trained counselors that are a part of the Lifeline network. These counselors are
trained to listen, understand, provide support and guide you to the resources necessary and
beneficial for you. SAFE Project suggests that reaching out and getting connected to the
resources that align with your needs will be the first step to ending stigma and discrimination due
to mental health or illness.
Here is what you can do. You can go to the SAFE Projects website and donate so they can continue
to provide support and resources that have been proven to help those in need. You can also
share their page and refer them to anyone you think may benefit from them. Here is the link to donate, https://www.safeproject.us/donate/, but take a look at their website yourself and
educate yourself. It will only be beneficial for you and those around you.
“Prevalence Data 2022.” Mental Health America,
“I Need Help:Quick Links & Resources.” SAFE Project, 23 Aug. 2022,