Double sided

Double+sided

Jeremy Troetti

Google the word ‘healthy.’ Then click on images.

For anyone who doesn’t have the few seconds to browse those images, I’ll spoil it for you: The majority of the images feature fruits, vegetables and people exercising. But while diet and exercise are keys to staying healthy, they’re not a magic potion.

What about the side of health that isn’t as frequently talked about: mental health?

There’s certainly no disputing that mental health is better understood in today’s society than it was in the past. This being said, mental health is often still swept under the metaphorical rug.

But why is that? Why would mental health be seen as being any less important than physical health? It shouldn’t be.

The statistics tell it all: mental health is a serious issue, especially on college campuses. Seventy-five percent of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Just under 50 percent of college students reported feeling hopeless in the previous year, according to a 2016 article published by USA Today.

Think about that. Almost half of all college students included in that survey felt hopeless in the previous year.

Whether it’s anxiety, depression, general stress or anything else, mental health is an important issue, and shouldn’t be put on the back burner. You could be in terrific shape physically and still feel horrible mentally.

There’s a statement that I absolutely can’t stand: When I overhear someone tell another person to “stop being so stressed.” It’s not that simple. There isn’t a light switch you can flip on and off whenever you feel like, and I strongly feel that if given the option of being stressed or not stressed, there’s not a person on this planet that would choose the former. To me, telling someone else to “just stop stressing” is like telling a person with a broken leg to just keep walking on it. Easier said than done.

Luckily, despite the overall lack of focus on mental health, there are an abundance of resources available for help, especially on college campuses. Here at Quinnipiac, confidential counseling is available to all students, as well as other stress relieving activities, such as yoga and meditation classes. There are also a plethora of online resources available that can offer helpful suggestions for reducing stress and anxiety.

Stress is a totally normal feeling. Every single person experiences some form of stress at some point in their lives. Some people just happen to experience more stress than others. That’s just a reality.

I see health as a double-edged sword: You have the physical side and the mental side. But while there are differences between the two sides, physical and mental health are more connected than you might think.

For example, excess stress can lead to various issues, such as weight loss, irritability and problems concentrating. On the flip side, activities such as exercise can actually help to reduce your overall level of stress.

This is why I don’t understand, while discussed more openly in today’s world, mental health is constantly still playing second fiddle to physical health. It’s very important to maintain both. Physical and mental health are so intertwined, so why is one portrayed more than the other, especially considering the direct correlation between the two?

I can’t remember how young I was when I first heard the words “stress” and “anxiety.” But what I can tell you is that these feelings have played a significant part in my life. Whether it was my intense fear of missing my school bus all throughout childhood, or the way my legs used to shake if I was anywhere remotely close to my crush, I felt it. Not just in my head, but throughout my whole body.

I’ll admit, in the past, I never really thought of mental health as a big deal. I was satisfied to tell people that I’m just a high-stress person. But starting this summer, I knew I needed to be honest with myself. Just like any other health problems, I knew my excess stress was something I needed to take care of.

I can tell you now, I’m so glad I’ve began taking the steps necessary to eliminate some of my stress. I even tried meditation last week, and trust me, anyone that knew me growing up would probably laugh at the idea of me meditating. But it worked. It amazes me to think that one simple 30-minute meditation class made me feel so much better.

I think it’s high time that mental health gains the attention it deserves. Mental health impacts us all at some point in our lives, even if it just comes about in the form of stressing over an essay you have due in two hours. So while diet and exercise are portrayed as keys to being healthy, they are by no means a guarantee of happiness. No puzzle is complete with a piece left out. Mental health shouldn’t have to be the missing piece.