Mental illness is a phrase that usually makes people feel uncomfortable. There is a long standing stigma that addressing mental health personally means that in some way you aren’t good-strong-brave- resilient— enough. That seeking mental health care is a very negative experience to be saved for a time when you are truly ‘crazy.’ In recent studies there have been many things observed that act as a barrier to help seeking behavior.
Again and again they noted the social stigma. We think it is important to blog about mental health, to give helpful information and address ways that, as a campus community, we can support one another and promote healthy minds along with our healthy bodies!
Here are a few alarming statistics. In a study done by the American College Health Association, more than one in three undergraduates at times felt so depressed that they could barely function in everyday life. Even more alarming was that one out of ten reported seriously contemplating attempting suicide. In 2007 and 2009 a Healthy Minds Study found that 17% of the students screened were positive for depression. The results were similar when compared to same age peers that were non-college attendees. This tells us that young adulthood is a critical time to shape positive attitudes toward mental health, addressing and educating on what it means, and providing support. This is why it is important we are ever vigilant in our campus communities.
These statistics show that there is a serious need for mental health awareness and support. Recognizing students and even coworkers who are at risk and being able to direct them to care is an important piece that researchers are realizing. When one compares the number of students on campuses with the number of available counseling/psychological support staff at college/university institutions, most are vastly outnumbered. Recognizing those in distress, and then bringing them in to counsel is a tall task. To help supplement this support, the campus community should be aware of programs that empower campus professionals, faculty, staff, and students to help fill this gap. Providing education on the mental illness prevalence on campuses, the ability to recognize those who may be in distress, and the communication skills to help refer that person to the help that they need is a tremendous advantage to campus mental health structures.
College students most at risk include the following:
– Males have the highest risk for suicide; females have the highest risk for major depression and anxiety disorders
– Individuals from lower socioeconomic status
– Individuals in poor relationships (abusive parents, spouse, romantic relationship)
– Victims of sexual violence
– Trends now show increase in risk for the following populations: students on performance based scholarships (including athletes, academic scholarships, or other merit based scholarships), and minority students in predominantly white institutions – More research is being done in these areas.
www.activeminds.org lists 12 signs to indicate when someone (or yourself) may need help right away:
– Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depressed mood, poor self-esteem, or guilt
– Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or activities
– Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
– Anger, rage, or wanting revenge
– Feeling tired, or exhausted
– Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
– Restlessness, or irritability. Anxious movements or behaviors.
– Regular crying
– Reckless or impulsive behaviors (excessive drinking, drug use, reckless driving)
– Persistent physical symptoms – headaches, digestive problems, chronic pain that do respond to routine treatment
– Thoughts about death or suicide
– Threats or talks about hurting or killing oneself
– Talking or writing about death or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary
– Looking for ways, or obtaining ways to commit suicide (purchasing weapons, pills, etc.)
– Giving away prized possessions and other personal things
If you, or someone else you know, is experiencing these symptoms, there are people who are here that care about you and want to help you. Wright State’s Counseling and Wellness Services department provides counseling services to faculty, staff, and students. They are available during their walk-in hours: M, T, TH, F – 11 – 3pm W – 1pm-3pm. Raider Cares is a 24 hour crisis phone service available to all Wright State who may be experiencing emotional distress. That number is 855-224-2887.
There are many references available for more information on mental health. Here a just a few that are helpful resources with more information about mental illness in the college age student, ways to recognize and help, and other resources about the different types of disorders and their effects.
Wright State Counseling and Wellness Services Center
Office Hours: M-F 8:30am – 5pm
– Suicide Prevention Center Crisis Line (937) 229-7777
– Samaritan Crisis Care (Montgomery County) (937) 224-4646
– The Community Network (Green County) (937) 426-2302 or 376-8701
American Psychological Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Active Minds: changing the conversation about mental health
Article: Eisenberg, D., Hunt, J. Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health 2010; 46: 3-10. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~daneis/symposium/2012/readings/Hunt_Eisenberg2010.pdf