NAMI Meeting on Anxiety

The Odyssey Online

Rachel Dobkin, Staff Writer |

Trigger warning: Anxiety

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) held its second meeting of the spring semester on Feb. 18 on the topic of anxiety. NAMI is a Student Association (SA) recognized club on campus that aims to raise mental health awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The NAMI president, Alice Brennan, started the meeting off with a presentation on anxiety. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the United States (18.1%), but only 36.8% of those affected seek treatment. Treatment includes therapy, medication, and relaxation techniques.

There are many types of anxiety including general anxiety disorder (G.A.D.), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, agoraphobia, selective mutism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (O.C.D.), and post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.).

Symptoms of anxiety can be physical like a pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath, can also be emotional like feelings of apprehension or dread.

Two major symptoms of anxiety are panic and anxiety attacks, but it’s often hard to distinguish the difference in our culture. The major difference is that panic attacks are sudden and extreme, while anxiety attacks build up over time.

After a discussion amongst club members, Brennan touched on why it is important to talk about mental health. She said, “To help get the word out there. Throughout middle school and high school, I practically knew nothing about mental health.” She went on to say, “To just help let people know that they are not alone and make it more normalized. Mental health should be something talked about freely.”

Rastislav Demcak, a member of NAMI, expressed his views on how students balance mental health and schoolwork. He said, “We prioritize our work, and we neglect helping ourselves mentally and physically.”
Demcak says the school should “continue advocating telehealth” because it is “a lot more convenient for the students to have access to mental health counseling.”

Telehealth is a way to distribute counseling via online services. The SUNY Oneonta Health Center offers this service to their students. Another way that the college promotes mental health is through their new Personal Wellness Days.

Students, however, have criticized the college’s decision to take away spring break and replace it with Personal Wellness Days. Demcak said, “I feel like where you place the Wellness Days depends on if people want to participate in their own wellness.”

Jennifer Le, Public Relations for NAMI, said, “I know they were trying to avoid long weekends, but I have tests and assignments due the next day.”
Students have found that the Wellness Days seem ineffective when they still have studying and homework to do for the following day. Aside from taking advantage of the Wellness Days and services of the Health Center, NAMI is also a great resource for students’ mental health.

James Bulger, Secretary of NAMI, encouraged students to join the club. He said, “Come pop into one of our meetings. I love the fact that it’s a national organization and there’s so many great people involved.”

NAMI will hold their next meeting on Mar. 4 on the topic of depression. If you would like to join in on this virtual meeting, you can find the link on Campus Connection under NAMI’s page.

Looking forward to the spring semester, NAMI will also be participating in one of their annual events, The Out of the Darkness (OOTD) walk. OOTD is an event sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to spread awareness for suicide prevention. This event will have to be virtual this year, but NAMI plans to join.

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