This I Believe

I believe in reaching out to others when you need help.

It’s easy to brush off your problems or try to handle them yourself. We’re college students, and everyone is busy with classes, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. Maybe you don’t have the time to talk through difficult situations, or you think your friends don’t have the time. Maybe you don’t want to burden someone else or be perceived as weak.


Maybe you’re afraid that friends will view your concerns as, instead, complaints. The truth is, though, that everybody needs a helping hand sometimes, and that’s alright. It’s always okay to ask for help, but I can sincerely understand why it’s difficult to feel comfortable doing so.

When I was in elementary school, the earliest presentations given to us, in our small auditorium where all of the students had to sit on the grimy floor, focused on self-care. There, we were taught about the importance of exercise and eating healthy; we were encouraged to become active in club soccer, dance lessons, gymnastics, you name it. We were shown infographics of the food pyramid, taught the basics of “stranger danger” and learned how to dial 911.

In middle school, these routine presentations turned into mandatory physical education and health classes. I remember my gym teacher staring me down as I struggled through pushups, pull-ups and running the mile. Eighth grade health class focused on the big three: drugs, alcohol and STDs, which seemed to be prominent themes as we transitioned into high school. The most memorable part of studying our “healthy relationships” module was the special week devoted to abstinence education.

Health class in high school again made a big push for drug and alcohol awareness, as well as nutrition and exercise in order to prepare us for “post-high school graduation life.” Our textbook introduced models of holistic wellness, and we studied physical, emotional and social wellness by reading through typical scenarios of young people with poor health in one of those three areas. Although these scenarios were often exaggerated and stereotypical, this was one of the few times I remember more complexly understanding health in high school.

I am recounting these experiences because I’ve struggled with self-harm for several years. It took a long time before I felt comfortable talking about it with others. I don’t blame my schooling for making it difficult for me to reach out, but I also don’t remember any conversations about self-harm throughout my education growing up. It may have been included in the curriculum, but there never seemed to be a major focus as there was on the reoccurring themes of drugs, alcohol and physical wellness. While all also important topics, they certainly dominated health class conversations.

Admittedly, topics like self-harm are pretty taboo in society. Because of this, many people have a limited knowledge about them, and it can subsequently be hard to start conversation. Maybe this is why self-harm—while a widespread problem especially among youth—doesn’t seem to have a place quite yet in educational settings. Sometimes I worry that college life, which at times can be rigorous, stressful and frustrating, as I’m sure that most of us can agree, also creates an environment that makes it difficult for students to practice self-care as well as feel comfortable reaching out to others for assistance.

This is why I believe in asking for help. These conversations aren’t easy—they certainly haven’t been for me—but there is always somewhere to start. Reaching out to somebody, be it a relative, a friend or a professional, is a powerful way to indulge in self-care. Surround yourself with people who care about you, and never be afraid to reach out for help whenever you need it.