mental health awareness month
By Alden Zuck
The Month of May:

Mental Health Awareness

This month of May is Mental Health month, which has been going on since 1949. When taking a look at healthiness, it is important not to just look at things like the heart or the liver but to look at the whole body. Mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” ( Being aware of our own, and others, mental health is such an important thing to keep in mind, as it can potentially lead to devastating side effects.
Throughout high school and college I was in the position to be involved with many people who were struggling with mental illnesses, whether that be alcohol/substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar, depression, eating disorders, et cetera. In high school I was one of three leaders in charge of a 600 member marching band and the leader for a christian organization within that group. Being in this position, quite a few people came up to me looking for help within their mental illness, whether that be at the beginning of it or in the most devastating time. These students were the ones who had the courage to come talk about it, imagine how many others struggled and kept silent? Or imagine how many others kept trying to give subtle hints to their friends and nobody would notice?
Moving forward to my freshman year of college, I was assigned a roommate who happened to struggle with a combination of mental disorders. I found myself halfway through freshman year standing on the edge of a bridge at three in the morning attempting to talk my roommate off the bridge. I look back and remember how I had no idea that he was going through all of this, however, I do know that there were many hints that he gave to me in which I didn’t realize were such a big deal.

For the next three years I worked as an intern for a church dealing with middle and high schoolers, and after that moment with my roommate, I was able to recognize and be aware of so many different times in which someone was dealing with a mental illness.

As my time for graduation came and I had to leave the church, it was heartbreaking to see the amount of moms come up to me with tears in their eyes expressing the struggles of suicidal thoughts from their sons and daughters and thanking me for simply being there with them and noticing when something was off. Sometimes you don’t need to know the right words to say or the right actions to perform, but you just need to notice the signs and be there for the ones who need it the most.
Mental illness awareness is an important month, as it will for sure affect you in one way or another in your lifetime. Let’s just look at some facts. Each year, 8 million people die due to mental illness. Each year, 1 out of 5 adults in the United States (43.8 million people) experience some sort of mental illness (

How can we be more aware? Well, there isn’t an easy way to differentiate signs of mental illness compared to normal behavior or physical illness, however, some common signs can be included in the following list below.

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance


The Memphis Crisis Center is always there to help 24/7 for you or someone you know, simply call (901) 274-7477.
You should also be aware of these organizations that are available to Memphis:

If you or someone you know needs help, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Duncan-Williams, Inc. Presents:

It's Happening in Memphis

Benefiting the Germantown Performing Arts Center


  • November 4, 2018 Soweto Gospel Choir
  • November 10, 2018 Ellis Marsalis Quintet
  • January 11, 2019 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver with Flatt Lonesome
  • January 12, 2019 Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra
  • January 26, 2019 Dorrance Dance
  • February 2, 2019 Jazzmeia Horn
  • March 30, 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour
  • March 1, 2019 Shawn Colvin
  • May 4, 2019 Ballet Memphis: Midsummer Night's Dream

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