One in five adults suffers from mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), yet many fail to seek treatment due to the stigma related to mental health.
This week, President F. Javier Cevallos joined a state-wide campaign to end stigmas associated with mental illness in the workplace.
In a press release, he said, “Mental illness is a serious issue that can only be addressed by combatting the stigma that surrounds it and ensuring that those who are affected receive the services and care they deserve.”
College students are especially susceptible to mental illness because of stress. One in three students has reported prolonged periods of depression, and 50 percent of students rated their mental health below average or poor, according to NAMI.
As academic and job workloads increase, and the cost of college rises, these students are only getting more stressed out.
So, what can universities do to ensure their students are receiving the care and support they need for their mental health?
Framingham State offers counseling to students in need. While there is a walk-in period every day between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., a student must have an appointment to be seen otherwise.
For many, it takes a lot of courage to drag themselves over to the Counseling Center. Instead of telling these students to come back later, the center should have more walk-in hours available – at least 7-8 hours a week.
At a minimum, the center should provide walk-in hours during the universal free period on campus – 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The center also does not provide students with a counselor who specializes in drug addiction.
This is especially concerning, considering drug use is such a serious concern on college campuses.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse, between 1993 and 2005 illegal drug use, including heroin and cocaine, increased 52 percent on college campuses.
Additionally, Massachusetts is in the throws of an opioid crisis. While FSU has professionals on campus who specialize in wellness education, there are many psychological side effects to drug abuse that are best addressed in a professional counseling setting.
Mental illnesses can often be debilitating, and many find it hard to even get out of bed in the morning. They find themselves missing classes and assignments, and falling behind in school.
And while many professors here at FSU are understanding when a student confides in them about a mental illness, some students don’t know that they’re missing class because they’re depressed or anxious – they just know they can’t get out of bed.
There needs to be more discussion on campus about mental illnesses – what they are, what the signs are and how to get help. It is unlikely that students would attend an event hosted for just this education, as many believe mental illness could never happen to them.
Instead, this information needs to be taught during mandatory Foundations classes, by RAs and by peer mentors. A half hour spent informing new students about mental illness could save someone months of suffering alone.
We know FSU cares about its students. However, additional counseling and resources would go a long way for those who need it.