Health and Science

Health Project

As the New Year rolls around, the desire to “reinvent” oneself cycles through almost everyone’s minds. The chance to start over begins as soon as the clock strikes midnight. With Covid-19 at its peak, mounting pressure falls on everyone’s shoulders as new variants seem to be popping up left and right. However, it is incredibly important to not lose sight of taking care of oneself.
Mental health is often stigmatized, despite those affected being 1 in 5 youths across the United States. 50% of young people ages 8-15 do not receive treatment for the struggles they face. NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, works with teenagers to destigmatize talking about mental health.
Chris Gaur, a NAMI representative for almost seven years, spoke to the sophomore health classes about his own experiences. Gaur is a very successful individual, running his own business and raising his three children. He told the students about when his struggles began, around his freshman year in high school. He began staying home from school and his parents took him to receive a psychological evaluation. Gaur was diagnosed with depression, stating, “I didn’t think I would be able to make it through high school.” With the support of his family and school guidance counselors, Gaur was able to go on to graduate high school and attend college.
Gaur stressed the importance of understanding the warning signs of a person in need of help. Many people are often hesitant to speak up for themselves for a variety of reasons, including fear of what others may think or fear of what their families may think. These warning signs can include feeling withdrawn for more than two weeks, trying to harm oneself, risk-taking behavior, overwhelming fear that inhibits one’s daily activities, difficulty breathing, significant weight loss, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality, or sleeping habits, and extreme difficulty concentrating. All of these warning signs, along with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800 273-8255), were provided to each student on a small note card.
When asked what his best resources for finding help were, Gaur spoke about DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. This form of cognitive therapy tries to identify negative behavioral patterns and encourage positive ones. DBT aims to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships. DBT includes group therapy, individual therapy, and phone coaching. Gaur stressed that DBT may not work for everyone, saying this was simply what worked for him.
NAMI will be hosting a mental health awareness walk at Rye Playland this spring in order to raise awareness about mental health. The walk is open to everyone, and students can receive community service for participating. Everyone can play a part in reducing the stigma around mental health, doing things as simple as talking about it with friends and family. Organizations like NAMI are working to help make strides in the right direction.