I do not think I am unique when I say, as a young 20 something I often find myself feeling overworked and stressed out. From school, to work, to home life and social life, things are hectic and there’s pressures coming from all different direction. These feelings are experienced by many people my age and everyone has their own methods for coping. Personally, I’m still trying to figure out how to cope and because of that I often get into the cycles of depression. Ask any of my friends, I’ve been known to just stop talking and interacting with many of them for long periods of time because I’m so overwhelmed by depression I “shut down” or “shut them out”. I feel as if there’s no point in talking about my problems because everyone has them and I should not burden my friends and family with them. I create idea scenarios in my heads putting negative feelings towards my friends and blame them as to why my problems persist.
Yet during those very low times, I find true friendship from the least expected places, where a few concerned friends refuse to leave me alone and continuously offer their love and support no matter how hard I try to shut them out. And once I break out of my “funk” I remember those friends and hold them closer. These experiences have recently led me to really taking a stronger look into mental health in young adults. According to a recent epidemiological report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “6.6% of U.S. adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2014; however, when stratified by age, the young adult group, aged 18–25, had the highest prevalence of major depressive episode (9.3%) among all adults.” It’s becoming more and more important to raise awareness about mental health and end the stigma because chances are that you have a friend who is going through a major depressive episode and they need your help.
Which is why hiking or nature walks is not only a great exercise activity, but also a great way to aid in fighting against the stigma of mental health. When you’re on these beautiful nature trails surrounded by ideal landscapes with a friend or a group, conversations become effortless and honest. Within these moments problems can be discussed freely and without judgement. The openness of the environment entices conversations to flow from light to more serious easily and eliminate any uncomfortableness. It’s okay to “press” your friends about their problems because when if they are just shrugging them off as “not important” it’s your responsibility to tell ensure them that their problems are important and you are always open to hearing them and helping anyway you can.
– Thomas Lyons
This article is part of our #hikeOctober campaign to shed light on the stigma of mental illness and to promote the benefits of hiking. 100% of the funds raised from this campaign will be dedicated to alleviating the suffering of mental illness and to wilderness trail conservancy. If you would like to learn more or add you voice to our I #hikeOctober… series, please contact us.