Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Mental health cases are on the rise among young adults. Our life is so much easier now than it was 100 years ago. So why are they on the rise?

A study by the MHA(Mental Health in America) found that from 2012 to 2017, MDE’s (Major Depressive Episodes) increased 8.066 percent. The number of youths with MDE is nearly equivalent to nine million (the population of a tiny country). Over two million of these cases tend to be severe and require professional help.

Why does this matter?

What is mental health? An illness in the brain that causes disturbance in thinking, behavior, energy, and emotion.

Having positive mental health is key to living a healthy and balanced life. Mental health affects every aspect of our day. It affects how we feel, how we think, and how we act. Positive mental health is also important in having good relationships and making good decisions. It promotes productivity and allows you to adapt to change.

Mental health encompasses a broad age group and does not discriminate against who it chooses. People struggling with their mental health may be anywhere. In your family, next-door neighbors, teachers, coworkers. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in any given year, one in five American adults will experience a mental illness. Even worse, this statistic is applicable to young adults and adolescents as well. This is much worse for younger kids as they are impacted more and it changes the way they think. Even with such a big group of potential patients, more than half of mental health cases go untreated.

There is a ton of negative stigma concerning the topic of mental health. Because of the societal standards of having mental issues and the fears of judgment amongst peers, many kids choose not to acknowledge their problems or choose to hide it in fear of getting called a “freak.” Media stereotypes and a lack of education on the matter also plays a big role in making people hide their problems. All this negative stigma around the issue limits the number of proper resources available to help, making it all the more important to educate yourself on the matter and understand its importance as well as how to help.

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental health plays a direct role in people’s ability to maintain physical wellness. Mental health issues can cause a constant lack of energy. This problem can also be vice versa. Not maintaining good physical health causes depression and mental health issues. Exercise and a good diet go a long way in influencing how we feel during the day.

What can you do for a friend?

Be there for your friend. When someone is going through a mental issue, the last thing they would want is no one to talk to. Here are some things you can do.

Be kind to others. A little kindness would go a long way especially if you don’t know what they are going through. Make sure to treat others with respect and kindness. Remove the social barrier to help others struggling.

Learn more about mental health and what it means. Educating ourselves on the matter allows us to provide helpful support to those who need it in our communities.

Give them a trusted shoulder and ears that will listen. Tell them you will be there for them. Someone to talk to is better than no one at all.

Reach out to a trusted adult if it gets to the point where they inflict self-harm.

What is ShoulderMe?

ShoulderMe is an app designed to help people going through mental health issues. It’s an app that ensures that those people who are experiencing problems have a space where they can express their true emotions to people who comprehend the problems they are going through because they are having or have dealt with similar problems. If you would like to read more about the inspiration behind ShoulderMe and more about the app, click here.

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More Thrive Global on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis