Mental health is brain health

Tips for supporting mental health


Rhiannon Ripley

Taking photos of nature is one way Rhiannon copes with her mental illness. This shot was taken by the SHCS building.

Rhiannon Ripley, Editorial Assistant


Mental health has been gaining recognition in the world lately, and honestly, it wasn’t until last summer after I saw the movie “Inside Out” that I recognized the importance of my mental health.

The film’s focus on accepting your sadness and other emotions that are not happiness or other positive emotions was foreign to me. I thought to myself, “I’m allowed to be sad?” This concept shook me up for the entire summer and into the fall semester.

Not having my boyfriend around, struggling in a class, questioning my major, family troubles and many other things turned me into a stress zombie. I had my first panic attack, which caused me to get sick. It really scared me. I decided to prioritize myself and seek help. Since my panic attack back in September, I have accepted my anxiety and depression, and I have even found some ways to manage them. So let me share them with you!

First, seek someone who you can talk to and share your thoughts with. I found this person through our Student Health and Counseling Services. Therapy really helps me unload and be able to talk about what I am struggling with, rather than internalizing it. Plus, while you are paying tuition, the counseling is free! If you would rather talk with a family member or friend, that’s your decision. I enjoy my therapy sessions because, as much as I love my family and friends, I don’t need a bias and judged perspective on what I am already struggling with. Plus, they don’t need to know everything about me.

Second, it helps to find distractions. If you get anxious or stressed, you may need to take a step back for a moment and relax. Even if you don’t think you can afford it, you probably need it. I enjoy getting creative; I will journal, color in my coloring book, bake or even do some photography on campus. When I don’t distract myself, I over think and fall into a vicious cycle of stress that leads to anxiety which can result in a panic attack. So avoiding my problems helps everything! Honestly, taking a break and setting things aside for a while helps me recollect myself and focus.

Lastly, with the recommendation of a therapist and a consultation with your doctor, you could consider medication. Mental illness medication has a lot of stigmas that I believed for a while. Just be patient with it. Not only will it take a while for you to feel the effects if you start, it may take you a while to find the right one. Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently, so it takes time. It took me two tries to find the right one, but it helped me so much. Remember, don’t self­-medicate!

I am no professional on mental health, I only face it everyday. So if you are struggling, know you are not alone. And remember, you’re important and you’ll be okay.