OPINION: Seeking Mental Health Services Shouldn’t Inspire Fear

Graphic by Jordan Wong

CW: Mental health issues, including depression and suicide

As students, we live in a world where we are in constant competition with others. This is the generation of smart gadgets. However, when it comes to our mental health, our ‘smarts’ sometimes fail us. Recent studies indicate an increase in the number of cases of mental health illnesses among college students. Mental illness tremendously lesses the productivity and social role of an individual as it affects their thinking and functioning processes.

Depression is often associated with feeling sad or anxious — but it is more than that. If left untreated, depression can be devastating to both loved ones and those living with it. At best, depression is a common treatable mental illness, and at worst it can lead to suicide. For individuals aged 15-29, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), roughly one in five adults aged 18-25 experience mental illness in a given year. One of the top five most prevalent mental illnesses is depression, followed by anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and addiction.

The need of students seeking counselling services in university and college centers has shifted since the 1990s as the students are seeking services from developmental and informational needs to psychological problems. A research brief by Midwestern Higher Education Compact discovered that over the last seven years, the average percentage of students seeking counselling services on campus has remained around 10-15 percent. However, this percentage is still lacking, considering the increased rates of mental illnesses on campus.

While mental health services are fairly accessible across the 7Cs, these services are still underutilized. Students may be hesitant to go to Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services when they are in crisis, especially if they have nobody to accompany them and/or advocate for them.

For some, it is not lack of access; it is the fear of walking in. As much as we exist in a digital age and everything we need is at our fingertips, it doesn't stop us from taking care of each other.

Even in the academic and social whirlwind of Claremont, it is important to remember to keep up with one’s own health and the health of those one cares about. By doing so, we are not only being mindful of our own health, but also reducing the rates of suicide and mental illnesses.

Services like Monsour are not just for students in active crisis, though. Anyone can use them and being able to confide in someone other than friends and family can be surprisingly helpful. Monsour also offers workshops on wellness, study skills, self-care, and coping mechanisms.

Irene Maina CGU ’19 is a Masters in Public Health student from Kericho, Kenya. She is a Nora Roberts addict.

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