The Department of Counseling Services at Alcorn State University (ASU) presented the Mental Illness Awareness Week from October 4th-10th. The theme for the event was ‘7 Days, 7 Ways’ where each day had a specific word that was related to Mental Illness. The website https://www.nami.com was referenced so that individuals could educate themselves more thoroughly on each term. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Many people don’t seek proper medical help, as they commonly mistake their condition for something less problematic. However, it is best that they learn the signs of Mental Illness and get the desired help that they need.
Sunday, October 4th explored Anxiety and the causes and effects that it has on an individual. Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses and one that can manifest itself in many different ways from the biggest of problems to the smallest. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder and approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. There are two categories of symptoms for Anxiety which are Emotional Symptoms and Physical Symptoms. Emotional Symptoms can include feelings of apprehension or dread, feeling tense or jumpy and anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger while Physical Symptoms include pounding or racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, tremors and twitches.
Monday, October 5th discussed Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior to very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods. People with Bipolar Disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and uncharacteristic behaviors, often without recognizing their likely harmful or undesirable effects. These distinct periods are called Mood episodes. Mood episodes are very different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person. During an episode, the symptoms last every day for most of the day.
Tuesday, October 6th represented Psychosis, which can affect 100,000 young adults per year. About 3 in 100 people will experience a Psychosis related symptom per year, so it is best to learn the signs as soon as possible. Early or First-Episode Psychosis (FEP) refers to when a person first shows signs of beginning to lose contact with reality. Early diagnosis is key and can be advantageous for someone with signs. If the individual begins to have hallucinations or episodes of delusion it’s best to seek medical help immediately.
Wednesday, October 7th talked about Eating disorders. Eating disorders involve food and the dangerous measures one can go through. Three major categories of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. People with Anorexia Nervosa literally starve themselves to death. Their goal is to lose as much weight as possible to the point of exhaustion. Bulimia Nervosa is when a person consumes a certain amount of food then feels guilty for consuming it. They choose to get rid of it by making themselves vomit. Just like Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa affects the body especially the teeth due to frequent vomiting. Binge Eating Disorder occurs when a person indulges in an unhealthy amount of food at one time, to the point where they are uncomfortably full.
On Thursday, October 8th Depression was discussed. Depression is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from Depression according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Also on Thursday it was National Screening Day. Alcorn’s Counseling Services conducted a virtual screening from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. A form was provided so individuals could fill out and express how they were feeling on a daily basis.
Friday, October 9th was dedicated to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event by either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types which are intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Saturday, October 10th was dedicated to Addiction/Substance Use Disorder. Addiction is a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. People with addictions have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their lives.
This event provided students with a way to learn about the effects of mental illness. Students tend to go undiagnosed without the proper knowledge. Learning the signs and symptoms early can help remove the stigma and bring rates down. If you have any issues or need to talk to talk to someone, contact Alcorn’s Department of Counseling Services at (601) 877-6230.