Volume 14, Number 12
December 11, 2007

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Mental Health: What You Should Know.

chrisThere are still many social stigmas that surround issues of mental health. Too often this prevents those who need help from seeking it out. Either they find the idea too embarrassing, or feel that it is a sign of weakness. The reality is that mental health issues are not something to be embarrassed about, and not to be taken lightly. Often, with the proper care, many disorders can be stabilized or overcome.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are over five hundred thousand people nationwide diagnosed with severe mental disorders, and at least 6 to 7 million more who suffer from moderate and mild disorders that require treatment. So, roughly 10 percent of the population is dealing with some degree of mental health challenges. This is a percentage on par with overall world statistics. In other words, if you feel that you need help, you really are not alone.

Recognition of the importance of dealing with mental health issues globally is on the rise, with the World Health Organization (WHO) taking a leading role. Turkey has stepped up its efforts by releasing the "National Mental Health Policy," incorporating input from a number of sources to create a comprehensive approach.

So, how does this apply to you? It's been a busy school year. Exams are stressful. Maybe you didn't get the grades you were hoping for. Possibly your work load has been overwhelming. Winter weather is setting in. The days are shorter. If you live far from home, you may have been away from your family support system for months, and could feel homesick. Any of these factors can lead to a depressive episode, sometimes mild, sometimes quite severe. If you find yourself feeling tired, have a lack of motivation, and have negative thoughts that last for weeks at a time, it's a possible sign that steps need to be taken. Beyond depression, these life challenges can cause a "flare-up" of more difficult mental health problems, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The worst case scenario is to experience feelings of suicide, or to attempt it. The hope is that you will get help before this stage.

It is often difficult for someone to realize that they are having problems. Sometimes, a friend or relative might be a better judge. If you have seen a change in some one you know; maybe their personality has altered, or you've witnessed some of the signs mentioned above, you can be part of the solution. Try not to pull away. You might not completely understand what your friend or loved one is going through, but this is when your support is needed the most.

You can take steps to try and prevent problems, or limit their impact. Take care of yourself. Remember that although school is busy, it is important to maintain balance. See friends, exercise, eat right, get proper rest. Don't stay up all night cramming for tests or finishing essays. Even if you don't feel like getting out of bed, force yourself! Shutting out the world will only make your situation worse.

On campus, there are resources available. The Dean of Student's Office has a Student Development and Counseling Center. Get more information at www.bilkent.edu.tr/~dos/ogdm/index.html. As well, there is a psychologist who visits the campus health centers on a weekly basis. Contact the main campus health center at ext. 1666, ext. 1304 or ext. 1392, or the east campus health center at ext. 5057 or ext. 5266.

By Chris Hearm
BilWrite Team Member
Bilkent News Editor

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