As the Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, NAMI has started a college affiliate initiative, NAMI on Campus. NAMI on Campus is a network of student-led mental health awareness, education, and advocacy groups tailored to the needs of individual college communities.
Mental illness can profoundly disrupt students’ thinking, feelings, moods, ability to relate to others, and overall capacity for coping with the demands of college life. These brain disorders are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Rather, mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders, and they cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
College students are particularly susceptible to mental illness, since depression and other major illnesses first become apparent during a person’s college years. Students must contend with new surroundings, people, classes, and other various stresses. The pressures of college life combined with biological factors have made mental illness on college campuses an increasingly common concern. An estimated 27 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. Consequently, every year thousands of college students struggle alone with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder.
NAMI on Campus aims to accomplish several goals. These campus chapters will help students through mutual support and education; pool resources with others to improve services for people with mental illness and their families; educate the general student body about serious mental illness; and improve the overall mental health of the campus community. Furthermore, they aim to overcome the stigma surrounding mental illness. Most importantly, NAMI on Campus strives to end the seclusion college students feel when there is no one to talk to who understands the problems of coping with depression or other mental illness.
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