Letter to the Editor: Mental Illness
by Katelyn Hawton | published Oct. 30th, 2019
Many people go to school to get an education and learn how to balance their time, budget, homework, friends and family. Some people can handle those big responsibilities, while some people struggle to handle the burden.
Having mental illness can be a tough obstacle to overcome in a lifetime, but you’re not alone. It is very important to seek help — according to Best Colleges, “40% [of students] do not seek help.” Further research has found that “one in four students have a diagnosable illness” in the home, school and other locations.
I will be discussing why it very important for colleges, like RIT, to encourage students on campus to seek out help from a medical professional if they are experiencing mental illness such as depression and suicidal thoughts. Students don’t need to combat this illness alone.
Depression is more prevalent than one would think. A study from 2013 by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that “36.4% of college students reported they had experienced” different levels of this illness. These symptoms could lead to an “imbalance in our brains” and “physical well-being, emotional, and thinking” issues that could be damaging to your health.
What can you do if you recognize the signs of depressions in someone? You can encourage them to go to counseling, provide them with a positive environment, be a good listener and show support to those in need.
I advise students to seek out help because single-handedly holding depression inside your mind and on your shoulders can become difficult to manage or even possibly lead to suicide. It is okay to vent about your situation to the counseling center because they are there for you. They are willing to hear you and relieve you of your pain to ease the weight from your shoulders and mind.
Suicide is known as the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for college students, according to an American College Health Association report. It is recognized through a person’s speech, mood and behavior. If you see any of the signs of suicide in your friends or other students — such as discussion about suicide, a loss of interest in activities the person once loved or withdrawal from friends and family — I recommend calling Public Safety. If it is severe, then call 911 for emergency services to come and help the person defeat the thoughts of suicide.
It also doesn’t hurt to reach out to them to help prevent them from taking their life. It is important to show that you are there for them, to sit down with them to listen to the reason why they are feeling suicidal, to stay in touch with them if there is a close event and to help give them more ideas for resources that can help them. I understand the feelings of suicide because I have been in that dark area with those feelings, but it is very important to remember that everything will be okay. Contact counseling — they could help listen to your pain and guide you to break through those barriers of suicidal thoughts.
Seeking out guidance and support to combat these two major mental health challenges can help you maintain your well-being. I believe that colleges should have as many resources as they can gather available for students who are struggling with mental illness because it can be tough to deal with. If the college staff feels like what they are doing is not enough to prevent the life-threatening situations for students, then they must work harder to provide the resources that they need to have in the first place.
“By 2018, 34 percent of school health centers reported wait times, per the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors,” a Cosmopolitan article wrote.
The counseling center needs to not tell a person seeking help that they have to make an appointment and come back or that the appointment book is full — staff should be accepting.
My message to RIT and other colleges is to be keen on how the students feel and help them approach those obstacles so they feel the burden lifted off of their shoulders. Showing support will help these students feel like they don’t need to turn to suicide as an answer.