In-Depth: Mental Health

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Everyone is familiar with anxiety. Whether you know someone who has it, you experience it in small doses, or it’s something you deal with daily, anxiety is all around us.

It can be brought on by anything from a traumatic event to simply being in a crowd of people.

The symptoms are easily recognizable: restlessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, increased heart rate, shortness of breath and even insomnia. Any or all of these accompany anxiety.

It can affect anyone. Whether it’s your little brother or your great grandma, anyone and everyone can have problems with anxiety.

girlboyguyWhen it comes down to gender, the way that anxiety manifests itself can differ.

According to Mary Lutz-Priefert ’80, Marian alumna and licensed counselor, anxiety rates in girls show a relevant gap when compared to the rates of boys.

While 30.5 percent of females are affected by anxiety, only 19.2 percent of males are.

After the scope of mental health is broadened outside of anxiety, the gaps are even more glaring. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will affect 10.4 percent of females, yet it only appears in 5 percent of males.

In addition, females are much more likely to develop body dysmorphia and eating disorders like bulimia.

“Much of the school stress can be avoided by keeping up with school work instead of cramming at the last minute,” Lutz-Priefert said.

Here at an all-girl’s school, the concerns of mental health that affect females are especially important. While these statistics may seem daunting, there are plenty of treatment options that can benefit anxiety sufferers.

If you or someone you know, whether they’re male or female, is experiencing anxiety, there’s no reason to create even more stress for them. Keep an open mind, and if you choose to consult them, do so sensitively.

“One important thing to keep in mind is that in its earlier stages, anxiety is very treatable,” Lutz-Priefert said.

There are plenty of ways to treat anxiety. Whether it is taking a test in a room away from other students or taking medication, the best way to figure out which treatment is best for you is to talk to a trusted adult or to a therapist.

While anxiety is present and prevalent in today’s world, especially in girls, the first step to understanding and tackling it is to get educated.


Network Staff Editorial

One thing that all humans should know by now is that everyone is different. This manifests both physically and mentally, but we tend to recognize the physical differences much more than the mental ones.

Doing so can be dangerous because it discounts millions of people whose brains work in unique ways.

An example of this is a learning disability. Learning disabilities are classified as “conditions that give rise to difficulties acquiring knowledge to the level expected of those of the same age, especially when not associated with a physical handicap.”

Having a learning disability doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t want to or can’t learn, it means that they might just require different methods of teaching in order to get an equal level of education.WOLF & HOUND.png

You wouldn’t tell someone in a full body cast who is trying to walk up the stairs to “just do it.” You would see if they need help, and provide whatever assistance they need.

Why, then, is it any harder for  us to understand that we can’t tell someone with a learning disability to “just try harder”? We have to try to understand these differences and change our approach in order to ensure that everyone has an equal playing field.

However, there can be a fine line between helping someone achieve equal results and treating them like they are lesser than others.

The ACT levels the playing field by allowing people with diagnosed learning disabilities more time. This can generate angst in people who don’t have learning disabilities, because who wouldn’t want to have more time on such an important test?

However, that isn’t fair due to the fact that people with learning disabilities have a different reality when taking tests; they utilize that extra time in order to yield similar results to students without learning disabilities.

Just because someone with a diagnosed learning disability might be granted more time on the ACT doesn’t mean that they need to be treated with “kid gloves” outside of the testing room.

This exemplifies the difference between how we should treat someone in school situations versus social situations. In school, it is important that the teacher understands his or her students and adjusts based on their varying needs.

Education is important, and it is not okay to let students slip through the cracks because of something that they can’t control.

On the other hand, in social situations there is no need for someone with a learning disability to be treated any differently because of it.  They are people too, and most likely don’t want to feel limited by their peers.

Another non-physical difference is mental illness. In this case, being understanding is the best we can do. A chemical imbalance in the brain is not a choice, so it shouldn’t be treated like one.

Just like people with iron deficiencies have to take iron supplements to be healthy, people with mental illnesses have to take their medication to be healthy and functional.

There can be a lot of shame that comes along with a mental illness or a learning disability, but in reality, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. In the grand scheme of things, these differences are small.

Increasing tolerance and learning how people with learning disabilities and mental illnesses function is one way to dispel this shame. At the end of the day, everyone is just trying to live their life and feel comfortable in their own skin.


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