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Out of Darkness

Get involved in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness

Contributing Writer

Published: Monday, September 2, 2013

Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 21:09

OOTD

Courtesy of American Foundation of Suicide Prevention


Once classes begin, college students feel the rush of the overwhelming stress that leads them to neglect certain aspects of their lives, such as mental health. By getting involved in the Active Minds club at UMBC or participating in the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) walk, students can work toward the goal of trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness that sometimes prevents people from seeking help.

Students’ mental health should be taken seriously because it “affects academic success, rates of students who graduate, and the amount of suffering within our community,” according to professor Andrea Kalfoglou of the UMBC health administration and policy program, sociology and anthropology, as well as mentor for the Active Minds club on campus.

Students who have a history of mental illness, like depression, may become even more vulnerable when bombarded with the expectations of college life. Active Minds states that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.

Active Minds is an organization that raises awareness about the importance of mental health on college campuses all over the country. There is a stigma that surrounds mental illness in our society which, according to Kalfoglou, creates a challenge when it comes to “reducing suicides, suicide attempts, and helping people who are suffering get care.”

Korcelia Saygbay, a senior psychology major, is a member of Active Minds and has volunteered to work with AFSP for the past year.

One recurring event that she has participated in is called the “Out of Darkness Walk.” By participating in the walk, Saygbay said that people are able to actively promote “suicide prevention and get people talking about suicide in our population.” Saygbay will also be hosting the next local walk event in Columbia.

It is also important to know what resources are available to seek help. UMBC has a counseling center on campus that provides walk-in services free of charge for anyone experiencing a crisis.

Kalfoglou says depression is not something that “can be overcome through pure will.”

She urges people to “be courageous and admit something is wrong before you think your only way out is through ending your life. It can get better and you can live the long, fulfilling life you were meant to live.”

To find out more information about the organizations mentioned, please visit their websites:

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