Written by Meagan Anderson
My first year of college was when my mental illness hit an all time low. I think that part of the reason for this was because I was so alone and I didn’t understand what mental illness really was. After my first year, I decided that I would take a semester off from school to try to figure out how to finish college while dealing with my mental illness. I went on medication and started therapy, and this was a great first step for me, but I realized it wasn’t enough. I wanted to make my college an easier place to live both for myself and for future students going through similar experiences as me. I just wasn’t sure how I would do that…
I tried thinking about all the emotions I had going into my first year. I remember hating the changes being in an unfamiliar place with new people. I found it isolating and strange. I wish that when I first came to college there had been a group of people saying, “you are not the only one struggling right now”. I wish there had been people telling me that it was okay not to be having the perfect college experience. I wish I knew that I had people in my corner who would help me get through both difficult times with my mental illnesses and with school. I realized that what I needed was a club focused on mental health that would bring together students with similar struggles; as well allies, and people ready to instigate change on our campus.
My college had previously had a mental health club but it had faded away throughout the years. When I came back from my semester off I reached out to the past president and we brought the club back to campus. We got funding from our school and began to put on events. Getting it up and running took some serious work but seeing more and more students getting involved has been incredible!
It is amazing to see people reach out to the club with ideas for events and to say how important they think our work is. After bringing this club back to my school I realized how many people it benefits. Even students who struggle with mental illness and aren’t part of the club still benefit from seeing our work around campus and knowing that they are not alone in their experiences. It also gives students who don’t have mental illness an opportunity to learn about mental health and how to be an ally for friends and family. If this club had just helped one person I would have been happy but instead, in one year it has made its way into the lives of many and for that, I am incredibly proud.