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Editorial: Mental health needs more spotlight at VSU

Mental health does not get enough light shined on it.

Social media influencers post a picture of themselves in a face mask and call it “self-care” and advise people to take time for that “self-care.” People who suffer from depression and anxiety know that a face mask and candles are not what is going to make them feel like themselves again.

What will make people feel like themselves is a conversation that has to take place.

According to the National Association for Suicide prevention, on average, there are 129 suicides per day. In 2017, 14.46 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24 out of a 100,000 total committed suicide.

College students deal with a lot in their daily lives. There is school, work, extracurricular, and just trying to make “college the best four (or more) years of your life.” A lot weighs on students’ shoulders, and it is time to have that the conversation.

There are resources students can reach out to, such as the Counseling Center, FamilyWorks, and Student Diversity and Inclusion.

These safe-spaces host forums where students can open up about problems they could be having. While some are themed, that does not always mean you cannot talk about another issue. This is a great resource for students to have, but the conversation on mental health needs to be louder than “de-stress fest.”

The stigma around depression and anxiety causes students to feel less likely to open up and get the help they need. The stigma deems people as crazy or irrational. This stigma results in losing friends and family because of isolation and the more permanent loss, suicide.

The conversation on campus is mute right now, and it’s unfair to the students who don’t know their resources. While sending out mass emails on the events happening can be very effective, not all students pay attention to their emails.

Organizations make banners that are hung up throughout campus and host events on the pedestrian mall. That needs to happen for something as simple as giving a student a paper that lists the resources they have and an affirmation that they may have needed.

The methods VSU has in place to address mental health feel ingenuine. The email chains on “de-stress fest’ and “brave-space dialogue” can feel more stressful for someone who does not want to show personal feelings publicly.

One solution VSU may be able to use is providing the students with the ability to chat online with a counselor when they are struggling with coping with mental health. This provides the opportunity to not have to leave their home if their problems are weighing on them particularly hard.

Another solution is requiring students to check in with their advisor or a counselor during tougher times during the semester to ensure they are making their mental health a priority. This is similar to requiring a student to meet with his or her advisor once a semester for classes and grades. By doing this, it opens up a conversation a student may not have known they needed to have.

Another thing students can do for themselves or do with a friend is create affirmation walls in their dorms. Meditation and other forms of working out are ways to release dopamine, a hormone associated with happiness.

Aside from what a person can do for themselves when it comes to handling stress in an effective way, VSU needs to create a community based on supporting one another’s mental health.

This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator staff. 

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