4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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10 Things that Happen After You Drop Your Sorority

So much weight is lifted off your shoulders when you finally decide to follow your gut.

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After two semesters of trying to force a puzzle piece that just didn't fit, I dropped my sorority. It was the best thing I ever did, and to the many (MANY) people I know contemplating doing the same thing... DO IT. Don't make yourself small and let them put you in a box you don't belong. Here's what you can look forward to when you drop:

1. Freedom to POST POST POST

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Gone are the days when you have someone up your butt telling you to take this down or that down... I actually went through a time where I really disconnected from social media and it wasn't cleansing, it was in fear of being told I was wrong. That's not a way to live, trust me.

2. Making $$$ selling all your shit

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Srat girls love to buy your used t-shirts and canvases. It's really a win-win situation. I want money and to get rid of everything related to the sorority, and THEY want to buy it! Money is always nice.

3. Fake texts

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All the sudden, the people that never talked to you before will pop in and act like they were there all along. Fake apologies, fake 'let's hang out' texts, fake gasps.

4. Saving a RIDICULOUS amount of money

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Just for upcoming recruitment, I would have had to spend at least 100$ buying their specific outfits. Nowhere in the real world requires you to wear white pants or specifically ripped jeans. Maybe try pantsuits? That's badass (and not done).

And don't even get me started on dues and the 'non-required' t-shirts.

5. Less notifications

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I enjoy having no useless and dreaded notifications/texts. Straight up, I used to panic every time.

6. Time and more time

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No more Sunday meetings, standards meetings, extra meetings, recruitment meetings, etc. Now you can actually work a normal schedule, and not have to constantly be hurrying to do XYZ because sorority thinks it is the only thing on the planet you are doing.

7. You aren't associated with them anymore

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Their name doesn't follow you anywhere, now. Thank God because my success has no place for their mistakes. Gone are the days where guys think you're 'easy because they are' and a 'hard partier' or a 'slutty stoner.'

8. Real things can take up room on your resume

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I joined a sorority to build connections and professional relationships, and that was the LAST thing on anybody's mind. So, take an internship. Or volunteer with people who actually like to volunteer.

9. There aren't constant competitions anymore

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Everyone always trying to one-up each other gets tiring. I like to enjoy everyone's successes in their time, not constantly after competing though. So now I can actually enjoy my own successes without wondering who's going to try and outshine me next.

10. NO DRAMAAAA!

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The drama was the worst part. I'm pretty dramatic, but I had NEVER experienced bullshit drama like sorority drama. It's also the most pointless, and usually because one person is guilty of doing something wrong and being called out for it.

Leaving the sorority improved my mental health, and was a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I never felt more alone being surrounded by over 40 women who didn't actually care.

Focus on making genuine connections with people in your classes (because you're more likely to have things in common) and people in the professional world. Focus on your grades, and living genuinely. But most of all, listen to your gut and do what is right for you. These experiences are solely my own.

Cover Image Credit:

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I Asked A Frat Preisdent What's Great About The Fraternity Life, And He Gave 11 Me Reasons

If you're involved with a Greek organization, you can relate to this.

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I met with Jimmy Frey, President of the WVU's Mu Mu Chapter of Sigma Chi for an inside look at Greek/fraternity life. Here are the 11 reasons he loves Greek life!

1. You become a better man

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me that being in the fraternity makes you grow up and motivates you to become a better version of yourself! In his words, "If someone tells you that you can't, you can!"

2. Networking

Jimmy Frey

This is important for anyone who will need a job one day: Networking! Jimmy explained that there are thousands of alumni and brothers, so if you are in need of a job, post on the Facebook page (for the fraternity) and a brother will help you out!

3. Better grades

Jimmy Frey

When joining Greek life, the most common concern is how this experience will impact their grades. Jimmy told me that since he joined his fraternity, Sigma Chi, his grades have been better than before! He explained how he and his brothers will go to the library together, take the same classes, and motivate each other do well! In doing so, his fraternity had higher grades than the male average—Jimmy even had the best grades of his academic career!

4. Brotherhood

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy explained to me that his brothers always motivate each other. Besides going to the library, they go to the gym, church, and just hang out with each other. This creates a healthy and positive lifestyle.

5. Giving back to the community

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me that his fraternity's philanthropy is "Derby Days". It is to raise money for children battling cancer. His fraternity also raised money for Colton Hodges—a local Phi Sigma member who tragically passed away—and "Stop The Hunger". All of his brothers went to a local church and bagged over 10,000 meals for this cause! Jimmy was most proud of this, as he should be!

6. Not the stereotype

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy was keen on the fact that he and his brothers are not the stereotypical fraternity men you see on T.V. and in movies. He explained that they're very respectful of women, peers, authorities, alumni, and anyone they interact with! Besides that, they're generally just friendly and outgoing!

7. Alumni are important

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said that his chapter's alumni are very active in the brothers' lives. The Morgantown alumni chapter meets once a month and comes up with ways to better the house, ways to donate, and makes connections with the brothers!

8. Living in the house

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said it best: "If you don't live in the house, you are missing out on the full experience! We all go to class together, eat lunch and dinner together, and yell down the hallway if we want to hang out with each other!"

9. Bigs and littles

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me about his big, and that every big should take a little! His big always had his back, helped him with school, and looked out for him! Because he enjoyed having that experience, he took a little and explained how it made him feel like a better person by doing the same!

10. Sorority relations

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said that participating in different philanthropy events, fundraisers, and socials helps him to meet others! He explained how everyone in Greek life already has one thing in common, which is Greek life itself—it helps start a conversation!

11. Advice to anyone thinking about rushing

Jimmy Frey

"Don't be nervous. Go see the campus, see the world, talk to everyone! Make connections! The more you put in, the more you get out!"

After speaking to Jimmy (and being a sorority woman myself), he represents Greek life and fraternity life in the best way possible! I hope that anyone reading this feels motivated to go Greek or has a new understanding of Greek life!

As Jimmy says, "God bless!" and "Happy Freyday!"

Cover Image Credit:

Jimmy Frey

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