‘Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions’

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Olivia Yonce | oyonce@radford.edu

The Greek Life program “Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions” was a huge success. Many students filled Preston Hall to hear guest speaker Ross Szabo tell his story and give advice on how to cope with mental health. He is an award winning speaker, author, consultant, and returned Peace Corps volunteer. Szabo is an expert at creating sustainable mental health curriculum and programs that reach large audiences and has inspired millions of people to address their mental health.

The program on Wednesday, April 6 began at 7:30 p.m. with Szabo opening with funny and relatable jokes before going on to talk about his own experiences dealing with bipolar disorder. His slideshow presentation was both informative and interactive. He went on to say mental health is not something to be afraid of and it is not a sign of weakness if you admit to having mental health issues.

“Mental health should be acceptable and approachable, It should not be something to be afraid of or intimidating,” said Szabo.

One in four students have a diagnosable illness; 40 percent do not seek help, 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and 50 percent have been so anxious they struggle in school. In a survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 36.4 percent of college students reported they experienced some level of depression. Depression is the number one reason students drop out of school and is a gateway issue that, if left untreated, could lead to other symptoms or suicide.

Statistics show that 10 percent of college students has thought about or made a plan to commit suicide. There are over 1,000 suicidal deaths on college campuses in the United States every year, as reported by Emory University. It is important to note that most students who are suicidal suffer from depression or other mental illnesses. Many students experience frustration and doubt, but sometimes those thoughts gain a frightening momentum and bring students to a place where they seriously consider ending their lives.

Another large mental illness college students face is anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.; they affect 40 million adults over the age of 18, yet only one-third seek and receive treatment. Nearly 75 percent of those affected by an anxiety disorder will experience their first episode before the age of 22.

With these statistics, mental health is a topic more individuals need to be aware of.

“Mental health issues are not a joke and shouldn’t be taken lightly. We need to help those who have a mental illness. Instead of judging them or being hateful we should be loving and understanding,” Sierra Coakley said.

We can go to friends with a breakup or dealing with a death in the family, however we cannot easily go to people that we love and trust, when we are thinking about suicide or how they are not happy or too stressed out to handle life. It is time to stand up and help each other in any way we can.