This September, the new president of Dartmouth College Sian Leah Beilock convened a meeting of health care professionals, students, faculty, and community members. She introduced a panel of experts consisting of both current and former Surgeons General. The panel members were extremely intelligent, highly educated, and vastly experienced. What did they have to offer? And how does their past experience and current thinking affect you?
The topic of conversation was The Future of Mental Health and Wellness. This applies to all of us. We cannot maintain, let alone build, our physical health if we do not attend to our mental health. Each of the panel members emphasized a different aspect of this truth. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona stressed the importance of supporting young veterans who return from combat needing support and medical attention in order to transition back into the home environment. He tearfully described the personal experience gained when his son returned from the Iraq war plagued by the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Many veterans in similar situations find no support or assistance for their needs.
The surgeons general discussed their concerns about young people’s mental health. They cited depression and suicide rates among college-age students, stating that more needs to be done to destigmatize mental health conditions.
They discussed the need to identify the root causes of stress, anxiety, and depression and urged community members to reach out to students exhibiting signs of distress, such as substance use, missing classes, or removing themselves from other day-to-day activities.
How does their work and their visit to the college relate to those of us who are not college students? We may find ourselves in stressful situations or in a stage of life where we can’t manage all of the demands on us by ourselves. When this happens, we need to remember the words of advice offered by former Surgeon General Antonia Novello, “Don’t be afraid to ask when you need help.”
As members of the Upper Valley mental healthcare community we’re gratified to see conversations like this occur, especially in a way that will reach a large audience. If you, or someone you know is struggling with mental health, get in touch. We’re ready to start the conversation and help them find a therapy option that’s the right fit.