Mental Health Is Public Health

by Dea Biancarelli on March 27, 2014

Lately, I’ve been kind of down in the dumps. With midterms and the cold Boston winter, I just haven’t felt like my happy self. Fortunately, spring break is here, midterms are over and winter doesn’t last forever. My sour mood has got me thinking about mental health, it’s importance, and how it connects to public health.
The first thoughts that usually come to mind when discussing environmental health are pollution, genetically modified organisms, water quality and quantity, population growth, etc. However, one topic many fail to consistently recognize is mental health. Because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, mental health usually takes the sidelines when it comes to media coverage. It’s not something that’s really talked about at all, let alone on a population level.
However, 45.6 million Americans have suffered from a mental disorder in the last year. College students are no exception. In 2011, 30% of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year. These numbers alone prove that mental health disorders, specifically depression in college students, isn’t isolated to small populations but is a major issue public health issue for America.
Why are so many college students depressed? If you’re a current student like myself, the answer if obvious. Our generation is under more pressure and stress than ever before in all aspects of our lives. Academically, students must achieve high grades to land precious internships, which are now considered crucial for getting a job post graduation. Tuition is always increasing, financially straining many students and their families. Social networking allows us to make constant comparisons between our peers, who seem to be balancing everything in their life with ease. Because of this, students are extremely reluctant to seek out help in coping with these pressures and as a result suffer from mental disorders. Consequentially, 64% of students who drop out of college do so because of mental health disorders.
Obviously, college environments are breeding grounds for stress and do little to promote good mental health. So how can we as students change this dynamic and what can be done to college campuses to promote mental health awareness to the student body?
As for students, changing the conversation and stigma around mental health is an important place to start. Creating a student page to anonymously discuss mental health issues and receive support could help students feel more comfortable addressing their problems without having to publicly declare them. Clubs such as Active Minds, a student organization that “empowers students to change the perception about mental health” should be widely supported by the campus, and campus leaders should focus on the importance of mental health, especially to freshmen. Information on where to seek out help should be largely advertised and easy to access and advisors and professors should be aware of the warning signs in students and have a method of being able to get the student help.
While college will always be stressful, creating an open atmosphere about mental health is possible. Awareness is key when tackling the issue of depression on college campuses. The more the open we are to discussing these serious issues, the less isolated students struggling with them will feel.

**If you are a BU student seeking help with mental health issues, please visit

Written by Dea Biancarelli
Dea is a sophomore at Boston University. She is a Health Science major on the premedical track. She is passionate about public health and wants to travel the world someday. On campus, Dea is a member of Peer Health Exchange, a club that teaches health education in high schools,is involved in Global Public Health Brigades and is a member of Sigma Kappa. Dea also loves cooking, documentaries, makeup, reading, and shopping.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyson F. Gautreaux April 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm

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Dea Biancarelli April 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Wow what a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for reading our blog posts, our class works very hard. Help us out and like our Facebook page and share it with your friends!


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