Staff Editorial

Mental health attention imperative in college

Mental health is too often a taboo topic, but it should be an imperative in college. Photo courtesy of the Wellness Center.

There are days when getting out of bed can be difficult for a college student. It’s not the lack of sleep, the piling homework or the bitter cold. It has nothing to do with being lazy or in a bad mood. It has everything to do with anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.

The National Survey of College Counseling Centers reported that 94 percent of counseling center directors surveyed said they saw more students with severe psychological problems in 2014. They were mostly anxiety disorders,  crises requiring immediate response, psychiatric medication issues and depression.

A recent UCLA survey showed depression in college freshmen jumping from 6.1 percent in 2013 to 9.5 percent in 2014. At Loyola, reported depression among undergrads increased from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 11.4 percent in 2013, according to Wellness Center Associate Director David DeBoer.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders showed 25 percent of college women binge and purge to manage their weight, almost always due to an eating disorder.

And the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that anxiety affects 18 percent of the U.S. adult population, with 75 percent of those affected experiencing it by age 22.

All of this is why The Phoenix Editorial Board believes mental health is an important issue to be taken care of thoroughly.

Loyola provides great services for students, but there’s still a stigma regarding mental health people need to see past.

The thoughts that mental health is a touchy or taboo subject or that even bringing it up would make a person feel different or get different treatment have helped lead to an underdiagnosed college population with a fear of being seen as “weak.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four college students has a diagnosable mental illness and 40 percent of students don’t seek help.

The Phoenix Editorial Board thinks college should be a safe space for students to acknowledge mental health concerns and feel they can get support. Students shouldn’t have to hide or act like everything is OK when it’s not, and at the same time, they shouldn’t have to be treated differently for admitting there’s something wrong.

It should be comfortable to tell your friends you go to the Wellness Center for counseling.

It should be comfortable to tell your employer you have depression or anxiety, or even that you had it in the past.

It should be comfortable to just talk about mental health, especially in college.

This setting is stressful: moving from home, heavy course loads, the importance placed on having a successful academic life as well as a successful social life. It can be a lot to handle and can bring students’ mental health to a breaking point.

It’s difficult when students are put into a mindset of excellence. DeBoer said one of the problems students often run into is having to be perfect rather than good enough.

Mental health is a conversation dying to be had. The stigmas associated with experiencing a mental health concern often lead to no one talking about it, sometimes to a point where people won’t seek out support.

It’s not OK for mental health to perpetually have a negative connotation. It’s a part of life to be acknowledged and treated like any other medical condition.

The Wellness Center offers many resources for maintaining mental health: psychological assessments, group therapy on a myriad of topics, wellness fairs, Tivo the therapy dog, outpatient counseling and a range of outreach and training among faculty, staff and student staff. All of these services are common at schools such as Loyola, according to DeBoer.

Students need to take advantage of the resources Loyola offers to them and break the stigmas that surround mental health.

The Wellness Center can be contacted by phone at 773-508-2530 or online at luc.edu/wellness.

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