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Mental Health Awareness: Student Q&A

May showers bring spring flowers; And perhaps a little more seasonal affective disorder.In addition to cold sunny days, showers and flowers, May also brings with it Mental Health Awareness Month. More than 50 percent of American citizens will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime, and one in five will experience mental health issues in a given year. 

Equally as shocking, 45 percent of Americans with clinical-level mental illness do not seek professional help. 

But in a seemingly hopeless abyss of disorders, and in search of advice, students, Student Leadership Council members, and student ambassadors would like to remind us that in fact, we are not alone. Below you will find their answers to mental health based questions. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health, there is hospital and community based help and support available.

Is there a personal experience with mental health you’d like to share?

“I personally don’t really struggle with my mental health. I am incredibly fortunate (and seemingly rare) in that way. Mental health isn’t really something that is discussed in my family. I have had friends with anxiety and depression. But I don’t have anything specific worth sharing in that regard.” Riley Coleman, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“I suffer a lot from Imposter Syndrome. I have doubted myself and my ability to succeed countless times. Even now, I feel like I’m failing everything and everyone I respect. Only recently I learned this was an issue people suffer with. I feel having the people in my life right now has helped me grow as a person. I’m able to recognize I am capable of achieving anything because I have their support and guidance. I’m not alone in the world.” Morgan Sylvia, clubs engagement director of the Student Leadership Council.

If the college were to provide a more hands-on clinic situation, would you use it? Would you advertise it to people you know, and how could the college best support you and others if the idea doesn’t work or isn’t your cup of tea?

“I don’t think I would use a clinic that is provided by the college. Not because I don’t think it is a great idea, because I do. But this service isn’t exactly something I would need to use personally. I would definity advertise to people I know to use it, if it would benefit them.” – Riley Coleman, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“I would. Having access to a resource is a great boon if I ever needed it. I would also share information about it with everyone, either in casual conversation or if someone is in need. Spreading awareness of such a clinic may change the life of anybody. In the event the clinic couldn’t help me, it could still help others, so I would still let others know about it. By the way, every cup of tea is my cup of tea. I just had something called “vanilla chai” and it’s delicious. It warms up my day and my stomach.” – Morgan Sylvia, Clubs Engagement Director of the Student Leadership Council.

“I personally don’t struggle with mental health a lot but I would probably check it out to see how I could help others. It would be a good place to go with friends who are struggling because they could probably help them better than I could.” – Emilee Cole, outgoing event planner of the Student Leadership Council.

“I’d use the clinic and I would bring it up if it helped me. I feel like regardless of whether or not it helps me there are many that it would help.” – Student Zeph Portukalian.

How do you help others who are experiencing mental health issues? Have you had to specifically help somebody cope through a really rough patch? How so?

“I try to be as supportive as I can. I acknowledge that I am not a professional, therefore not qualified to force advice onto anyone. The best thing anyone can do in this situation is be a good listener. Sometimes people just need to vent in order to feel a little bit better rather than sharing their emotions then getting a lecture about it. I have definitely had to help a friend through a hard time. You do anything for the people you love, and in this situation that means being by their side and listening to them. I also try to be as available as possible. For example: You are sad and you need ice cream, to go on a drive and scream your favorite music, someone to watch your favorite movie with? I’m there. Early morning, late night, after work. Whenever. Whatever you need, I’ve got you. I make sure my friends know this, because a lot of people who struggle with their mental health feel like they are alone. That is why it is so important to let them know that they will alway have you and they are not alone.” Riley Coleman, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“I’ve had several friends who struggle with their mental health. Personally, I think that sometimes the best help you can give someone struggling with their mental health is to listen to them. Acknowledge them and make them feel heard. Don’t be so quick to judge or give advice. I also just check up on my loved ones often because I think it’s important to stay in touch. Regardless of how they are doing, good or bad, I still check up on them. I don’t want to wait until one of my loved ones is struggling, to finally reach out and check up on them.” – Rosario Romero, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“I don’t know if I have helped someone with their challenges, but I would without question. It isn’t easy to face challenges alone, so even a little kindness would have a great impact. I would provide information about resources, be someone to talk to, or even someone just to listen if needed. I would also reach out to others who may have a better impact than I.” – Morgan Sylvia, clubs engagement director of the Student Leadership Council.

“I try to be patient and ask them to explain what they need or how I can help. I remember one time I had a friend tell me they were having a panic attack and I’d never had any sort of experience with them. I tried to be patient and asked them to explain what was going on because I didn’t understand but they were too overwhelmed to explain it. I got frustrated because I was trying to help them but didn’t know how. Afterwards, I had another friend explain to me that I just needed to be calm and be there.” – Emilee Cole, outgoing Event Planner of the Student Leadership Council.

“I listen and lend a shoulder to cry on. Often being able to relate or atleast vent helps lessen the burden of bad circumstances. It also helps to know you’re not crazy in being beaten down by said circumstances.” –  Student Zeph Portukalian.

What do you do to benefit your mental health? What do you think affects it in a negative way?

“The only time I feel like my metal health is being negatively impacted is when I am around negative people. Behaviors of the people I am around can really affect my mood. I try to surround myself with people who do not portray negative behaviors and opinions, but in certain situations it can be unavoidable. So after such an encounter I just need to be by myself and away from social media, because if I don’t step away, any small behavior will be heightened and my mood will just get worse.” – Riley Coleman, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“To benefit my mental health, I try to take one day at a time and not stress too much about the future. When I’m feeling stressed or feel like there’s too much going on I like going on walks with my dog to clear my mind. I also enjoy listening to music a lot, it’s a way to distract myself from the outside world. I think stress greatly affects my mental health, but becoming better at managing it has positively impacted my mental health.” – Rosario Romero, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“Learning is the first step. Many things affect my mental health and I do my best to maintain good health, from regular exercise and sleep, to a balanced, nutritious diet, to the people who I surround myself with and what is in my environment. If I discover something negatively impacts my mental health, I develop a plan and try to resolve the issue. Consulting with others is also vital towards success. Finally, taking a break once in a while and recognizing my efforts, rather than results, is also important. This prevents overload and mental exhaustion, which is its own issue.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to not overload yourself with work. You can say “no.” Even though I still struggle with my own advice, that is besides the point. You must also take good care of yourself. Treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve.” – Morgan Sylvia, clubs engagement director of the Student Leadership Council.

“I try to take my dog on a walk at least once a day. It helps me to take a moment and not have to worry about anything plus I get to enjoy some time where I don’t have to do anything. I also do crafts to just enjoy me-time where I don’t have to think. If I spend too much time inside, I definitely realize that my mood declines and I start to dwell on unhappy things.” – Emilee Cole, outgoing Event Planner of the Student Leadership Council.

Is there anything you want to add regarding mental health awareness?

“Fortunately, mental health isn’t something I have to think about often. But I think it is important that we all take the time to recognize and identify what is hurting us or affecting our mental health. I feel like this is a good daily practice aside from getting professional help when needed. Rather than stewing in your own anger/sadness/hurt (which probably feels easier sometimes), identify what made you feel that way, then decide whether or not there is something you can do about it.” – Riley Coleman, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“Never hesitate to seek the health you deserve. Please don’t wait until your metal health is in critical condition to seek help. Also if someone trusts you with their feelings, etc. don’t make them feel like they are a burden, oftentimes, it just worsens their mental health.” – Rosario Romero, a student ambassador of the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“It’s very tempting to take on the world alone. You can do this, but you can also reach out to others. People who suffered their own problems and overcame them, or are still striving to improve themselves, could point you in the right direction. You need to take care of yourself first before you try to tackle other peoples’ challenges. Start off the morning right! Look into developing a routine to get started. That includes recognizing what you have survived and achieved. Reflect on the past to give your direction for the future, but also stop to drink some tea here and there. Seriously, vanilla chai is something else, let me tell ya. AND if you pair it with a delicious, light breakfast, you’ll face the day brimming with energy and with a good meal in your stomach!”

 – Morgan Sylvia, clubs engagement director of the Student Leadership Council.

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