One in five Americans is diagnosed with a mental illness every year.
The high number of individuals who struggle with challenges associated with mental illness inspired BYU-Idaho students to host a National Alliance on Mental Illness: Ending the Silence presentation.
BYU-I students will be sharing their personal experiences with mental health illnesses to spread awareness and bring understanding to the community and other students who struggle with challenges associated with mental illness.
Randy Hathaway, a junior studying communication, said he became involved with the project when the idea was pitched in his class. The NAMI: Ending the Silence presentation touched him especially, as challenges with mental illness are prevalent in his family.
“Realizing how present mental health concerns are in Rexburg made it so real,” Hathaway said.
The group of students working on the presentation interviewed six students who have personal experience with mental health conditions and are creating two different videos to share with the audience.
One of those students sharing their story is Joseph Hansen, a junior studying communication. Hansen said when he was 12 or 13 the symptoms of his mental illnesses started to manifest themselves. They inhibited his ability to function and made it difficult to pass classes throughout high school.
He said he began to feel trapped within himself, and that is when his parents helped him reach out to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder.
Hansen described the feelings associated with these mental illnesses as rough and confusing throughout finding ways to combat them.
The psychiatrist prescribed Hansen a medication giving him enough internal strength to fight the challenges, but it doesn’t entirely fix the problem.
“It’s always a battle,” Hansen said.
He said he has come to terms with the fact that mental illness is going to be something he is always going to have as a challenge. He said it is OK that not everyone can overcome the challenges associated with mental illness, and it is important to remember to use the tools to fight back.
“It is possible,” he said.
Hansen became involved as an advocate for mental health when he changed from business management to communication as a major. He took a writing practicum where he became involved in writing pamphlets for an advocacy event in the community. He said it has given him a purpose in life and has helped him immensely with the challenges associated with his mental illness.
NAMI: Ending the Silence is also hoping to end the stigma associated with mental illness and those with a mental health condition.
According to a NAMI, “Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.”
NAMI: Ending the Silence for college students will take place on Tuesday, June 19, at the NorthPoint Apartments’ events lounge on the third floor of the amenities building located at 141 S. First W.