Letter: Face of mental illness

By The Daily Illini

The other day I observed a student walking in a rather peculiar way. The student was shifting about on the concrete, shuffling, jumping, speeding up and slowing down. As I began watching him more closely, it became clear he was trying to avoid the cracks and separations in the sidewalk. He went about this tedious task while trying to dodge students. This was a rather monumental task given the time of day in this particular area of campus. I wondered how tiresome it must be for this individual if he is compelled to do this every day of his life.

I am writing this letter to those of you who suffer alone in silence with symptoms of mental illness that affect your quality of life. Look around you. The face of mental illness is next to you on the Quad, in your class and in your best friend. It could be you.

If you or a friend is in need of help, I implore you to seek it out. Tell a friend, a trusted professor or your doctor. Contact the University’s student services to discuss available mental health services, open the yellow pages to social services or access the Internet. Specifically, contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill at www.nami.org or the National Mental Health Association at www.nmha.org. Both Web sites offer help in accessing services and provide support.

The reason is simple: There are a variety of evidenced-based treatments that work for most of these problems. Some, utilizing simple talk therapy, can be helped without medication. I know this is true as I see it happen on a regular basis. I currently practice in the field and see people being helped and living happier, more productive lives. You or your friend will be glad you did.

Bobby Leebold

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