Stop the Stigma of Mental Illness


Student-run organization Active Minds advocates for mental health visibility and support.


Fordham Lincoln Center’s mental health club, Active Minds, has a saying that goes “Not everybody struggles with mental illness, but everyone deals with mental health.” This is to say that depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are more common than they seem, but go unrecognized because of stigmas that frame them in a negative light. The common phrases of “it’s just a phase” or “you’re over-exaggerating” reduce the importance of acknowledging mental health. Additionally, people with mental health issues should not be afraid to seek help.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, depression is one of the most common mood disorders. The symptoms include sadness, loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy, change in weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, energy loss and thoughts of death. While most prevalent in women, depression can start manifesting itself in children as young as 15 years old.

There is a common myth that people can simply “get over” depression; in fact, someone can be genetically predisposed to depression. According to St. Vincent’s Hospital, 30 percent of depression cases stem from genetics. Along with that, stress, a negative view about oneself or the environment a person is surrounded by can trigger a person’s depression. Lis Ortiz, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20 and the Active Minds secretary, said that they think mental health constantly permeates every aspect of our lives, though people may not always recognize its effects. One shouldn’t be afraid of seeking help to treat depression or feel alienated by it because depression is more common than it seems in today’s world. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health concluded that 16 million adults had at least one depressive episode in 2012. The American Psychiatric Association defines a depressive episode as a period lasting more than two weeks that “…causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in the way [a person] thinks or acts.” Therefore, students should never feel like they are alone when dealing with depression.

At Fordham, students can turn to Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) when they need help. CPS says they offer “…a range of services to help students address and cope more effectively with their stress and psychological concerns.” All sessions with CPS are confidential, so students can share their thoughts and feelings without fear that they will leave the room. This is one of Fordham’s many outlets for help with mental health. Along with that, Ortiz said that Active Minds always has their door open for anyone who wants to talk about or is struggling with their mental health.

There are many different levels of depression and mental health issues, but the moment a student notices an issue, they should reach out to someone. Mental health is not something that can be ignored and needs to be recognized as something serious in our society. Whether the solution be antidepressants or simply talking to someone, measures should be taken to help treat depression and prevent further mental health issues that could potentially lead to worse situations.