By Victoria Costello
SC Staff Writer
Mental Health Awareness on Campus
Your first year of college is a new, fun and exciting time. The combination of new friends, living away from home, parties, and making your own decisions as an adult have most first-year students feeling blissful.
Once the newness of college wears off, however, it is common for students’ depression to surface as the stressors of college begin to set in.
In fact, “The average age of onset for many mental health conditions is the typical college age range of 18 to 24 years old,” said Courtney Knowles, executive director of The Jed Foundation.
While stress is common among most college students, the prevalence of depression on college campuses is on the rise.
A nationwide survey of college students at 2- and 4-year institutions conducted in 2011 by the American College Health Association found that about 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that is was difficult to function” at some time in the past year.
If 30 percent felt depression that hindered their day-to-day functioning, it is something that needs to be addressed.
Substance abuse often co-occurs with depression and other mental disorders, and as a result, many students tend to self-medicate in an attempt to treat themselves.
Here at ESU, there are various groups present on campus to foster resiliency by providing students with healthy ways to deal with mental illness instead of using drugs and alcohol.
Active Minds is a group on campus that is dedicated in raising awareness about mental health. Often times you will find them with booths around the student union, or holding other events around campus.
Additionally, the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) center on campus is a phenomenal resource for students. CAPS is staffed with licensed psychologists and their services are free for ESU students.
In addition, CAPS and Active Minds also sponsor two popular events on campus, Day Without Stress and Mental Health Awareness Day.
Ask.Listen.Refer is an online suicide prevention training program to help students identify people at risk for suicide, recognize the warning signs of suicide, and how know to respond and get help for people at risk.
These groups help start the conversation about mental illness in an attempt to fight the stigma associated with it.
Additionally, they encourage students to get help, all while letting them know they’re not alone.
As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety myself, I feel that ESU does a great job in opening up the conversation about mental health.
Often times those battling with depression or any other mental illness can feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation.
By having Active Minds and the CAPS center on campus shining a light on mental illness, and essentially normalizing it, students feel empowered to seek the help they need.
If you’re interested in joining Active Minds and raising awareness about mental health, they meet every Thursday at 3:00 PM in Stroud 302.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relationship troubles, academic difficulties, or just need someone to talk to, visit the counseling center located in Flagler-Metzgar Center.
Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources to assist you.
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