It has become more commonly believed that mental health is just as important as physical health when thinking about long term lifestyle choices. However, it can be important to reach out for professional help when mental health issues threaten safety or if they are getting in the way of everyday life. There are resources for mental health in spaces such as emergency rooms, which are known for treating physical health.
The answer of how to begin solving mental health issues can be a daunting one, especially for those far away from home who may not know where to turn. Here is a practical, simple guide of steps students can take when struggling with mental health issues.
Here are resources for those dealing with urgent safety issues such as self-harm or suicidal feelings: In the case of an emergency, call 911 or go to the most convenient emergency room. Local hospitals include Highland Hospital (1311 E 31st St.), Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center (3600 Broadway), and Alta Bates Emergency Department (2450 Ashby Ave.) The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255.
For less urgent instances: If you are not facing a situation that threatens immediate safety but symptoms are getting in the way of everyday life, there are steps you can take. Mills counseling and psychological services (CAPS) often has long waitlists for recurring appointments, but same-day appointments with therapists are available.
For those dealing with eating disorders: Jeanene Harlick wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle nearly 15 years ago that “people suffering eating disorders have precious few outpatient resources in the Bay Area.” Since then, fortunately, the dangers of eating disorders (which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) have become more widely recognized and there are more options for support in the Bay Area. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has a helpline that can be reached at (800) 931-2237 and their website lists many helpful resources, including a “find treatment” option that lists local resources. The Center for Anorexia and Bulimia at Herrick, a part of the Alta Bates Summit located at 2001 Dwight Way, offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment options.
It is important to recognize these mental health issues as serious, as some can even become life threatening. Certainly they are life-impairing, and it is impossible to be a successful student without taking care of oneself. Professional help can be more practical than expensive and time consuming lifestyle changes.