Graphic by Valerie De La O.
College can be stressful at times, and it can be overwhelming for students with mental illness. At Dixie State University, there are resources available for students with mental challenges.
According to an ABC News article, more college students are seeking help with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Another article published on MSN reports the ratio of college freshmen struggling with mental health issues is one in three.
The main issue according to both articles is most U.S. schools are not equipped with the facilities or staff to provide aid to these students. At DSU, students who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression can go to the Health and Counseling Center for assistance in dealing with those issues, said Dylan Matsumori, Health and Counseling Center director.
“The most common reasons individuals engage our services are stress management, dealing with difficult relationships and/or people, adjustment to new challenges, feelings of homesickness/loneliness and sadness,” Matsumori said.
These types of feelings and illness can affect students’ performance in every aspect of their lives, Matsumori said. He said it is difficult to be motivated when you are stressed out or overwhelmed.
Beyond feeling the pressure of needing to get homework done and passing classes, students with mental disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, may miss class or be unable to get up in front of everyone and conduct a presentation, Disability Resource Center director, Baako Wahabu, said. Difficulties like these affect their performance and grades and students can get assistance from the DRC in these cases, he said.
“We are able to help work with students and their faculty,” Wahabu said. “Say if a student is unable to attend classes regularly because [of] their depression. There are days they can’t just get out of bed, or there is no energy to do homework… we are able to help students get extended due dates on their assignments.”
Jamie Dahle, Mental health counselor and outreach coordinator, said the goal of both the DRC and Health and Counseling Center is to build more awareness of what the negative effects of mental health are. She said they can affect us in the same way a physical ailment can. If there is more awareness about how mental health issues effect affect students, it is possible for more of them to get the appropriate help, she said.
“We must remember mental illness is simply a pole on the scale of mental health, just as illness is a pole on the scale of health,” Matsumori said.
When someone is struggling with a mental health issue or with the symptoms of a clinically diagnosed mental disorder, friends and family can provide help and care, said Becky Cox, substance use disorder counselor and expressive art therapist. However, that process begins with the person who needs help she said.
“It has to start with the individual,” Cox said. “They’ve got to be honest and open and just ask for what they need and be willing to accept help.”
If you, a family member or a friend at DSU are feeling depressed, anxious or overwhelmed, or exhibits symptoms of a mental illness, there is help available at the Health and Counseling Center and DRC. When you do notice someone struggling, there are ways you can help them too.
“Support, love and help them face consequences,” Matsumori said. “If it feel[s] over your head, just be there for them.”