On Feb. 27, a number of ISU students attended a session discussing mental health in students, some common mental illnesses such as Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and trauma, as well as how to handle these illnesses as teachers and students.
Angela McKinney, a school psychologist, spoke about these topics, including how we define mental health and trauma, fostering resiliency (how students "bounce back" from said issues), and self-care for caregivers such as teachers and parents.
During this lecture, some statistics about the climate of mental health in Indiana were given. One in five Indiana adults (20.6%) have experienced a mental health condition in the past year, and nearly one in 10 Hoosier children (9.2%) have lived with someone who is severely mentally ill, suicidal or severely depressed. For anxiety, 80% of children are not getting treatments due to drastic side effects of medications.
“Everybody's carrying their own invisible backpack of things that are going on in their life and that ‘student’ may not be their primary role, right? Maybe being a mom, a daughter, being a caregiver for somebody else. There are gonna be times when college students are gonna be in crisis,” said McKinney.
“I think there are a lot of situations where we are forced into groupwork, and sometimes we choose those groups and sometimes we don't. I think sometimes because we don't know what's going on with our classmates, because some of them are friends but some of them are not... sometimes you're in a classroom of total strangers, and I think we're quick to think that somebody's not keeping up their end, or that somebody's weird, and it may just be that they've got other things going on. I think we need to keep that lens of you don't know what they're carrying around with them.”
In 2016, there were 1,042 suicides in Indiana, and 50.7% of children do not go to counseling or therapy. It was also reported during the lecture that more children will die from suicide than from asthma, AIDS, diabetes and peanut allergies combined.
“Suicide is still existent,” McKinney said. “For a lot of people, we were in a nice cocoon of living with our moms and dads, and in one building in high school, with teachers who knew us well, and suddenly we're semi-independent. There's nobody to make you get out of bed, there's nobody to make sure you eat, and there's nobody constantly checking in on you, and I think that piece is really important, that if we don't learn about mental health, especially since a lot of these things kick in at that age, a lot of the scary mental health issues can kick in when you're about college-age, and if we're not aware of those things and can look out for ourselves and others, then we've got tragedies happening all the time.”
Towards the end of the lecture, there were many solutions given to listeners about how to cope with mental health issues, and the importance of self-care including nutrition, hydration, fitness, being assertive, time for solitude, and essential fun and enjoyment.