Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Billboards, outreach programs and grassroots volunteers can do a lot to further a cause, but they can't equal the influence of entertainment and entertainers. The incredible impact of Logic's song, "1-800-273-8255," which is also the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, reveals this reality. On the song's release date, the lifeline had the second-highest call volume in its history, its director told CNN. As of August, calls to the lifeline had increased by a third compared with the same time period last year.
Logic's song shows the profound impact celebrities can have, especially when destigmatizing mental illness. When a resource like the Suicide Lifeline is publicized, it is normalized as a step to recovery; consequently, young people are more likely to use that resource.
Mental health and our understanding of mental illness have come a long way since icepick lobotomies and isolation therapy, but we still aren't where we need to be. The ideal is a culture that encourages people to immediately seek help and offers resources when individuals notice symptoms of mental illness in themselves and others. The ideal is a culture in which people feel open to talking about what they're experiencing.
Awareness can start with celebrities like Logic. So many public figures have spoken out about their own experiences with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more. It's hard not to feel empowered when thinking about the recoveries of Demi Lovato, Britney Spears or Kid Cudi.
But we also must realize the impact of our own responses to mental illness. While fame can be an important component of awareness, the biggest way we can normalize seeking treatment is being there for our friends. Resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as this university's Help Center and Counseling Center, are good places to start.
Remember: It's okay to breach touchy subjects like mental health, as long as we do it gently and with an open mind. Starting a conversation makes the subject less touchy, which is what public figures are aiming to do. By being mindful and taking the lead from those who have spoken out about mental health, we can help each other maintain our cognitive and emotional well-being.
Erin Hill is a sophomore psychology major. She can be reached at email@example.com.