Caring for the mental health of college students can often be overlooked by society— and students themselves.
People forget that, for students, this is a time of rapid change and stress can be an unwanted result.
“I believe that stress is a big problem, especially in a community college,” said Jamey Wheeler, OCCC mental health counselor.
“These are also people who work or are taking care of other people or may be parents.
“These things can all add up and be overwhelming.”
Wheeler said being a low-cost school, OCCC attracts students who may not be able to afford an education at a university.
As a result, she said, students have a lot more going on in their lives than just college, such as work and having to pay for school.
This problem extends beyond the OCCC campus.
“Eighty-five percent of the students reported feeling stress in their daily lives in recent months, with worries about grades, school work, money and relationships the big culprits,” according to Trevor Thompson and Nancy Benac of the Huffington Post.
“At the same time, 42 percent said they had felt down, depressed or hopeless several days during the past two weeks, and 13 percent showed signs of being at risk for at least mild depression, based on the students’ answers to a series of questions that medical practitioners use to diagnose depressive illness.”
And, Wheeler said, another problem arises when people in distress are scared to seek help because of all the negative stigma associated with mental health care. She said people are afraid if they get help, others will label them as crazy.
“Society often labels you as crazy when, in fact, everyone can benefit from mental health counseling,” Wheeler said.
“Just talking to a counselor can help you be more introspective and you learn how to cope with things better.
“I do see some improvement in mental health being less stigmatized. However, there is still a long way to go.”
Engineering major Alyssa Thom said it is time for more openness.
“Mental health is a topic that we all need to talk about more so that it becomes less taboo,” Thom said. “I think that it shouldn’t be this difficult to go seek help.
“There shouldn’t be this many social barriers to making yourself stable and mentally healthy,” she said.
“Exposure and increased public awareness would be ideal for the world.
“If we all stopped thinking of people as crazy when they go seek mental help, it would be better for society.”
For OCCC students, free help is available. Any student on campus can contact Wheeler or other mental health counselors for help.
Students can simply walk in or schedule an appointment with the Student Support Services on the first floor of the Main Building.
“Students can talk to counselors about any range of problems they have,” Wheeler said.
Self-help resources also are available through the school’s website and can be accessed by going to http://occc.edu/support/SelfHelp.