How well do you know your friends? While this question might seem absurd because one might think ‘I spend all my time with them so logically I should be able to say I know them very well,’ I ask this question because most people don’t tend to share what is truly troubling them. To give perspective on this issue, consider for example how 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health disorders. If this is surprising, then you might be shocked to learn how two thirds of the population that suffer from mental health disorder do not receive the help they need. The problem is not that there is no help, however. Rather, the problem is that we do not share what is happening in our lives.
Last week, this issue was represented in the film called Call Me Crazy, sponsored by Bates Active Minds and NAMI Maine. The film is broken up into five interlacing sections that each depict different stories. We saw through the stories of Lucy, Grace, Allison, Eddie, and Maggie, how it doesn’t matter how smart, how funny, or how rich one is, mental health issues can affect anyone. Lucy for example had graduated as magna cum laude from college and was in Law School when she underwent a serious schizophrenic episode that made her drop out of Law school. Academic success does not always mean mental well-being.
The falseness of our assumptions was exemplified in Eddie’s story as well. Through Eddie’s story we saw how just because he made other people laugh, it did not mean that he was immune to any problems. Eddie actually suffered from depression. This showed how the people that we would least expect to be suffering from mental health issues are still susceptible. Maggie’s story is an example of how even families can be uninformed of their own kin’s mental health issues. Maggie had never told her father that she suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. Her father finally came to know the truth after she underwent an episode that was so serious she was put on trial to determine whether she should retain custody of her son. One might think it’s no big deal that this is actually part of growing up; learning to solve your own problems. Having this belief is problematic though because if you aren’t able to address the issue in yourself, then the issue just might escalate into something worse.
What can one do then to alleviate this quietness? One can’t make someone share something that they don’t feel comfortable sharing so then what can be done? The solution given in the movie was to show kindness and love to every person. As more students were able to see the seriousness of the issue, students like Tommy Graziano commented: “makes you want to be nicer to everybody because you don’t know what they are going through…” Even former Mayor Larry Gilbert realized how we might be “taking people for granted.” What we have to do then is realize that while there are not so accepting people of divergences; there are far more people that do care.
Here at Bates for example, there are several programs built to combat the quietness of the issue. Max Silverman’s Active minds is aimed at “changing the culture of Bates…to get more people talking” about mental health issues. One does not even have to personally have a mental health issue as well. The stories of Grace and Allison both showed how one can equally be affected by mental health issues by just having a relation that suffers from it. Active Minds is just meant to be an open forum that helps students receive the aid they need. Let’s not be afraid to share anymore. You are not in this alone! Too many think that they have to deal with their problems alone. Remember then as you work to change the world that you ARE cared for and that you are NOT alone.