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Mental health illness on rise among students

The “Silver Linings Playbook,” one of Hollywood’s big screen hits, has helped reopen a national dialogue on mental illness.

Medical experts say there are six main types of mental illness: schizophrenia (see, hear things that aren’t real), bipolar (two extreme moods), major depression (can’t get out of bed/can’t function), severe anxiety disorders (OCD, panic/eating disorders, phobias), ADD (no focus) and ADHD (hyperactivity).

Nationwide, one in four people will face mental illness this year, according to the Mental Health America website.

Locally in Santa Barbara, teachers say they’re seeing a spike in depression among elementary-aged school children.

Health experts say the same is true among students at UCSB. Employees at the campus clinic are logging four times as many mental health problems than physical ones — mostly depression or anxiety-related.

Mental health specialists say those most at risk for developing mental illness are between the ages of 16 and 25.

Friends and family should take notice if a loved one tends to sleep far more than usual, or has dramatic changes in mood or behavior over a prolonged period. These can be red flag warnings that something is seriously wrong.

For more information on symptoms, treatments and support, contact the Mental Wellness Center in Santa Barbara at (805) 884-8440.

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