Professor Mia Ferreira discusses the social stigma of mental illness. (Frank Rocha/Lariat)
The One Book, One College committee at Saddleback College invited students to a TED Talk on mental illness, on Tuesday in SSC 212. The event was hosted by Health Sciences and Human Services, Adjunct Professor Mia Ferreira, MPH, MSW. The presentation was called “Mental Illness: It’s a Disorder, Not a Decision.”
“The intention was to increase awareness about the prevalence like anxiety, depression, and mental disorders and to give students some techniques to talk to their friends about it and talk about stigma,” said Ferreira. “If anything, I hope they walk away and have the ability to do something about it.”
Through educational slides that inform to the filled SSC room, which had more attendees than there where chairs. And had more than a few attendees stand or sit crisscross on the floor to attend the event.
“Maybe we need to something like this monthly and maybe there will be something in the works,” said Ferreira. “I would love to be a part of something like that.”
Over 46.6 million adults have mental illness and almost 60% go about being untreated. Mental illness occurs in majority of women with 22.3 million cases, young adults (18-25) 25.8 million cases and occurring within mostly white adults 20.4 million cases.
With mental illness, might lead to the increase of suicide rate. In 2017, there were 47,000 deaths by suicide. Meaning every 12 minutes, there is one death by suicide. And today, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-25.
According to CDC’s National Center for Health Sciences, on average, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
According to Cal Tech Medical Research, mortality from medical causes, such as strokes, AIDS, heart disease, Leukemia has decreased. Suicides have increased and have not peaked yet. Biomedical research has decreased death and morbidity, from early detection and intervention.
The morbidity or the conditioned of being diseased, has Neuropsychiatric disorders in the lead for disability adjusted for 28.47 life years. Others including cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive diseases, etc. are half or less than half for the disability adjusted life years.
A factor on why mental illness is increasing, even with the new scientific tools to show the presence of brain changes before symptoms can get out of hand. Social stigmas are dissolving the confidence that mental illness can be treated and the person’s illness is a legitimate health condition.
Professor Ferreira shared famous names that had to deal with mental illness, including Billie Eilish, Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Lady Gaga, Winston Churchill, Jim Carrey, Demi Lovato, etc. The examples were for students to relate themselves with possible idols or admirers, that people like them deal with mental illnesses and its difficulties.
If students want to find help, “Start at the student health center, especially if you’re wondering if you have a mental health disorder or your experiencing symptoms, because there are other medical conditions that can cause that,” said Ferreira. “Start with a medical provider who can run blood tests, but also who can refer you to the appropriate counseling resource and the student health center which is available to any student who is enrolled at Saddleback College.”
For any immediate crisis, call 911. Text a crisis line: Text HOME to 741741 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Students at the end of the presentation had the chance to ask questions about mental illness. There were many questions being asked, the presentation ended with multiple hands still raised. The Lariat asked a few individuals on their personal illness, what it entails and who can they trust easing their illness.
“I think anxiety is very serious,” said Devin Lara, a Saddleback College student. “I learned that people can have any anxiety, no matter who, what or any mental or physical disability.”
“Living with OCD is having unwanted thoughts and fears and I didn’t know how common it was,” said Casey Paganelli, a Saddleback College student. “I think depression and anxiety is very common, if we know that’s common then we can be accepting of everything else.”
For Devin Lara it’s about finding someone or a place to find solace, peace and acceptance for who they are. A safe environment to combat a person’s illness, to gain the ability to continue day to day life or social stigmas.
“It depends on who you can trust to go to. I have learning anxiety and I have depression. I have a family that tells me to not worry about it, you’re strong, a part of the family and it doesn’t matter who you are. We still love you for who you are and from that I still fight to try to be happy and not to have hard depression or anxiety. Family, friends or anybody that you can open your heart or hope to give you that strength. If they can help you, those are the sources you want to go to,” said Lara.
For Saddleback College’s involvement to combat mental illness starts at the student health center, but for events dealing with mental health on campus is at its infancy.
“I think there could be more done on campus for raising awareness or awareness events,” said Ferreira. “So maybe there is something we could collectively do along with the student body and get other speakers to come out, because I can see the potential for it.”