CSUSB’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) held their first webinar to take part in National Mental Health Awareness month. The webinar, titled “You’re Not Alone: Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health for College Students” was an hour-long discussion tackling mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, that college students face.
Mental health is more prominent in students, with more than 40% of students facing depression and 66% of students experiencing overwhelming anxiety. Depression and anxiety are some of the most prominent mental health issues that students experience over the course of their college career.
From not knowing exactly where their future might take them, struggling with classes, jobs, and family life, students are often left feeling overwhelmed and alone in their struggle. The reality is that students are not as alone as they may think and that seeking help might feel harder because of the stigma put in place surrounding mental health.
“I know some friends and family members of mine that have depression and I know they don’t really talk about it, or if they do, it’s something that they laugh off,” said fourth-year, Erwin Nuno. “It’s not something people talk about seriously if they talk about it at all.”
Stigma is a societal creation that casts a negative light around a situation or topic that is often uncomfortable or made taboo to talk about. Because these stigmas exist, people are lead to believe in fallacies which might keep them from seeking help.
Students may believe that college is supposed to be stressful and accept stress as a normal part of their college career and that their problems can’t be as bad as others. Another common fallacy is that students feel like they should be able to handle their problems and not burden anybody else with them.
“I call these fallacies because all these are not necessarily true, but I know, unfortunately, we’ve all thought of this to some extent,” Mari Ulate, CAPS counselor and webinar speaker said. “So all of that can definitely contribute to feeling anxious or depressed.”
Those with depression have reported feeling sad every day for more than two weeks. They lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and might have a change in appetite. They report having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or oversleeping and they have less energy and motivation. In some cases, depression can lead to students think about even commit suicide.
According to a 2018 American College Health Association survey of 88,178 college students, within the last 12 months, 12.1% seriously considered suicide, 1.7% attempted suicide, and 7.8% intentionally cut, burned, bruised, or injured themselves.
Along with depression, students are often dealing with stress and anxiety.
Fourth-year student Angelina Perez, said, “It feels like I have a hard ball in my chest and my mind won’t shut down. It can keep me up for hours or until three in the morning thinking about all the things I need to do but haven’t done. It’s caused me to miss out on opportunities when staying away from things that make me anxious is so much easier. And the worst part is that I’m too anxious to get help for it in the first place.”
With mental health affecting so many college students, Ulate offered many ways that to change the conversation surrounding mental health and ways in which students can find support. Sharing their experiences out, focusing on activities that they find enjoyable and finding a few minutes to get out and walk can help students confront some of the issues they may be dealing with.
While on-campus visits to counseling are unavailable due to COVID-19, students can still seek counseling services virtually. Counseling services for students are covered in tuition for anyone who sees cost as one of the barriers keeping them from seeking help.
Other resources such as the Crisis Community Response Team or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be found on the CAPS website at www.csusb.edu/caps/resources/hotline-and-community-resources
Visit www.csusb.edu/caps to seek support and find more information.