Be aware of mental health resources on campus

Amid a catastrophic increase of mental health concerns from college students, mental health care providers, including those at SIUE, should expand accessibility and care for students in need.

According to the National College Health Assessment conducted by the American College Health Association on 450,000 students at 452 institutions, the odds of a student being diagnosed or treated for anxiety disorder is 68 percent higher than in 2009, 61 percent higher for panic attacks, 40 percent higher for ADHD and 34 percent higher for depression.

Generation Z has some of the highest numbers when it comes to stress, but it also is the generation   most likely to seek help.

 According to the American Psychological Association, 37 percent of Gen Z is more likely to look towards therapy or professional treatment.

While 37 is not a large percentage by most standards, it is almost double the amount of Baby Boomers seeking help. These statistics show college students are increasingly more likely to need or seek mental health services than their predecessors. The impending stress of the changing job market coupled with the stress of everyday college life has had a detrimental impact on students, causing them to seek help for many different kinds of mental health concerns.

According to a survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, anxiety, depression and relationship problems are among the primary concerns for college students. 

The survey found 41.6 percent of students seeking mental health services did so because of anxiety, 36.4 percent because of depression and 35.8 percent because of relationship problems.

Even though society still has a long way to go, the stigma behind mental health concerns appears to be slowly fading, perhaps due to many openly talking about their mental health concerns and seeking resources for help. 

While one doesn’t have to confide in everyone around them that they are struggling with mental health concerns, it’s important that they find someone to help them work through their problems in a healthy way.

Perhaps not widely known by the student body of SIUE, Counseling Services offers various group sessions to students, one of which is aimed directly at one of the top concerns among college students according to the survey: relationship problems.

This session, called “Understanding Myself & Others,” allows students to improve their interpersonal skills and gain insight into social dynamics. It also helps students to further develop their communication skills and form healthier relationships with those around them. The students are given the opportunity to work on emotional expressiveness.

For some, connecting with others undergoing similar struggles can be healing, while others see more benefit from one-on-one counseling sessions with a licensed professional. 

Counseling Services offers private sessions with staff who are trained from a generalist approach, meaning they can help with a large spectrum of mental health concerns. 

The limited number of healthcare professionals at Counseling Services may cause students to feel incompatible with the counselor they are matched with. 

Therefore, the search to find the right person to open up to may have to be taken outside campus limits. 

Students seeking help for specific mental health concerns, such as post-traumatic stress from sexual assault, might have a preference regarding their counselor’s gender. 

Unfortunately, the student’s schedule and counselor availability may not accommodate for the preference —  as a counselor who fits the student’s preferred gender might not be available at the same time as the student. 

In other cases, students might simply feel uncomfortable opening up to their counselor, or struggle to afford a counselor or find a counselor within their health insurance network.

Although Counseling Services might not work for everyone, students should do their best to prioritize their mental health — whether this means seeking external help or utilizing the mental health resources available at SIUE.

While the stigma surrounding mental health concerns can prevent many from seeking help, the beginning of the school year is the perfect time to get one’s mental health in check. 

We all need to take care of ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential, and therefore, maintaining one’s mental health should be a priority.

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