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Mental Health: Recognize it

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STORY BY: Natalie Smith

A Personal Journey

“All-consuming” is how Sarah*, 22, described her battle with anxiety. It was interfering with basic tasks such as walking on the sidewalk, answering the phone, and logging onto the computer.

“I didn’t know how bad it was until it got too difficult to show up to class, if I was one minute late to class, I just wouldn’t go because I was so petrified of walking into the crowded room and everyone looking at me,” Sarah said.

“I dropped my classes, I didn’t want to get a job because talking to people gave me anxiety, and I was just really stuck. It led to me getting depressed because I was angry at myself for not being normal. that’s kind of when I knew that something was seriously wrong and I needed to get help,” she added.

On how she overcame their anxiety, she said “I found a therapist and I began to take medication. Of course, it doesn’t solve all my problems, but it makes it manageable. I don’t feel as hopeless.”

Battle of the Brain

Mental health is serious. The brain should be treated with just as much care and consideration as the body, but people overlook their mental health and ignore symptoms of illness, because they see it as “just a phase,” or the idea of having a mental illness is “weird.” Many people feel labeled and judged by their mental health and illnesses.

Palomar’s Initiative

In Spring 2016, Palomar just began its new Behavioral Health Counseling Services, located in the Health Center. Lenka Schalke, director of Palomar Health Services, said that there will be three licensed therapists for student use with a limit of six visits per semester.

Individual, couple or group therapy is offered in a completely confidential environment. Students must make an appointment.

Palomar’s efforts in Mental Health Awareness are completely free for all students due to the mandatory Health Services fee and a great perk to take advantage of.

For more information about Palomar’s Health Services, visit

Mental Health Stats

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, one in four college students have a mental illness, but 40 percent don’t seek help.

There are more than 200 types of mental illness, the most common of which are

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • OCD.


The most common illness affecting college students is depression.

Depression can cause someone to lose interest in things that they usually enjoy, and wreaks havoc on their eating, sleeping, communicating with others, and especially their ability to study or work.

The symptoms of depression include

  • Feeling sad and helpless
  • Change of weight and appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unexplainable frustration
  • And thoughts of suicide.

Check out Buzzfeed’s video about what it’s like living with depression:


Anxiety is almost as common as depression, but just as severe.

Knowing when to seek help for anxiety is tricky.It’s time to seek help when your “mood state interferes with your ability to function at school,” according to Psychology Today’s Gregg Henriques Ph.D.

A helpful reminder according to Henriques is to manage your emotional reaction to stress rather than attempt to change the stressful situation.

To manage anxiety for an upcoming test or major assignment, it’s recommended to watch your diet, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself enough time to prepare.

Cosmo’s Breakdown of What Anxious People Actually Hear When You Talk to Them:


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder varies depending on the individual. The symptoms for OCD include: fear of contamination/dirt, requiring things to be symmetrical or orderly, aggressive thoughts of harming yourself or others, unwanted and repetitive thoughts like sexual aggression or religious aggression.

Bipolar Disorder is categorized into 2 episodes: a manic episode, where a distinct period of abnormally high mood lasts at least one week, and a hypomanic episode, which includes a distinct period of abnormally low mood lasts at least four consecutive days.

Manic and hypomanic periods switch on and off, with fluctuating lengths of time.

The Stigma

The stigma surrounding mental illnesses is the biggest barrier for people to overcome. Mental health is common and resources are available for anyone, no matter how lost and isolated you may feel.

College is supposed to be the best part of your life, but the stress can make it difficult, which leads to developing a mental illness.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance, even if you don’t have a mental illness because keeping and developing a healthy mind is necessary for managing your life.


Go to for more information and how to get involved

For questions or concerns here are a list of helpful hotlines:

Depression/Bipolar/Anxiety support: 800-273-TALK (8255)

National Institute of Mental Health Information: 866-615-6464

Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863

Suicide Prevention Services: 630-482-9696

To schedule an appointment with a therapist on Palomar’s campus: (760) 744-1150 X2380


*For the purpose of this story, last names were not used due to privacy.


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Mental Health: Recognize it