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I have a mental illness. There, I said it.

It has taken quite some time to utter that statement without hanging my head in shame. While I was always on the nervous side, the severity and frequency of my anxious feelings became overwhelming during college. When I finally mustered up the courage to see a professional with LSU Mental Health Service, I felt an immediate sense of relief. Shaking hands, severe nausea, panic attacks those are all normal, right? No, but they are nothing to be ashamed of. I have a hereditary illness known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which often results in depression. All the horrible feelings I had been experiencing finally had a name, a cause and a solution. I finally began to feel normal. Currently, I am a member of Supreme Public Relations, a student-run public relations agency in Dr. Jinx Broussards PR Campaigns course. We have partnered with the Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness of mental health issues while providing services for individuals with or at risk for mental illness. Although MHA does not provide treatment for college students, LSU students should be aware of its mission and services. Eliminating the mental health stigma cannot be achieved alone. We can change the publics opinion of mental health, but we must work together. To learn more about MHA and mental health, visit the Wellness Fair in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom on March 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also assist MHA by eating at Reginellis on Chimes St. on March 21. Say MHA and 10 percent of your bill will support MHA services.Mental health issues are prevalent and diverse in our community. In fact, one in four adults suffers with a diagnosable mental illness each year. However, this fact is often clouded by the sufferers shame due to the stigma associated with mental illness. Mental illness is a taboo subject in our society, especially among college students. However, the number of LSU students receiving mental health treatment is much higher than ever before, according to Dr. Timothy Honigman, a primary care physician at the LSU Student Health Center. Dont be afraid to come in and discuss the issues youve been having. Theres someone here who can take care of your needs, even if you think its an unusual problem, Dr. Honigman said. LSU Mental Health Service provides free clinical consultations for full-time students to discuss students issues and create a treatment plan. Many LSU students provide assistance for members of the community as volunteers with THE PHONE, a crisis intervention hotline provided by the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center. Just want to talk and have someone listen? Anyone can call THE PHONE at (225) 924-3900 or toll free at (800) 437-0303.

If you too are one in four, do not be ashamed. Find the help you need, and remember: mental health affects the whole community, not just the individuals.

Karoline Dreher Mass Communication Senior Daily Reveille March 20, 2013