Awareness, information and accessibility to resources can be key to addressing common mental health struggles. We sat down with Logan’s Student Care Manager Jennifer Starks to dispel mental health myths, discuss resources and explain ways to combat stress, anxiety and depression.
What are some myths still associated with mental health issues?
Myth #1. Having a mental health issue means you are lacking some kind of strength or self-control that you cannot manage. Having anxiety or depression does not mean that you’re not mentally strong, and it is not the fault of the person who has it. Sharing about your mental health concerns and seeking help are actually very vulnerable and brave things to do. You have to be strong to seek support.
Myth #2. I’m the only one struggling. In reality, struggling with mental health is not uncommon. A national survey of college students in 2020 found that nearly 40 percent experienced depression. One in three reported having had anxiety, and one in seven said they’d thought about suicide in the past year. Part of breaking the stigma around mental health is breaking the silence. You are not alone – we all need mental health support at some point in our life.
Myth #3. Medication is the only treatment. Medication is one way, however there are actually lots of ways to approach mental health, like speaking to a therapist, practicing meditation, exercising or acupuncture. Talk to someone about the best approach for you. You have options.
What are some ways I can combat stress, anxiety and depression?
Take care of your body through healthy eating, adequate sleep and exercise. The physical and the mental work together; when one is struggling the other may follow. Also, be sure to have more than one tool in your stress toolbox. For example, exercise might be your go-to stress reliever, however during challenging times, you may need more options. Try increasing sleep or limiting activities. Keep in mind that what might work on a good day may require more on a challenging day. Finally, try to prepare and practice self-care during times that you know will be more stressful than others.
I’m afraid to ask for help; what should I do?
Start by talking it out with a trusted friend or colleague. Just talking about problems can begin to alleviate some of the burden. Know where to find available resources and start with a support tool in which you are most likely to follow.
How can we as a community make improvements in how we support others?
Be aware that someone may have something going on that you can’t see. Statistically, we know that we’ll encounter people every day that have a mental health struggle. Start with curiosity and sympathy, not judgement. Are you noticing a new or changed behavior? A simple question can just be, “I didn’t see you in class, you doing OK?” Consider things taking place in the world that may be causing distress. Something that’s not affecting you directly may be having a different impact on a friend.
Also, talking more about mental health reduces the stigma and increases awareness. It’s not a shameful thing. We need to make the community more accepting of individuals of all abilities and make resources accessible. Often times, mental health support is not always accessible to the people who need it the most. We should all have a general knowledge of what resources are available and how to find them. You don’t necessarily have to be the person to manage their mental health, but you can get them to the right person for support.
What resources are available to students at Logan?
We have resources right here on campus as well as H&H, Logan’s Student and Employee Assistance Program, which offers free and confidential counseling services. H&H can be reached at 314-845-8302 (or 800-832-8302) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and through telehealth counseling (via phone, video, messaging, and chat), as well as in-person counseling.