Mental health awareness is a common topic for college students nationally.
While feelings of sadness or anxiousness are common, 30% of surveyed students from two to four year institutions reported feeling, “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time during the year, according to a 2011, American College Health Association assessment.
While depression has influence on academic performance, it also can have long term affects such as increase chance of substance abuse and suicide.
Susan Biskup, a Wilkes University campus counselor, explained options students may have when facing depression and linked illnesses.
“If a student is suffering from addiction, we offer counseling through Health and Wellness which may lead to a referral to Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services or possibly a referral for a psychiatric evaluation from our community resource list,” said Biskup. “A student can choose a provider depending on their insurance and other factors. All treatment at Wilkes is free and confidential, available to all students.”
Most universities offer free or low cost counseling service and health screenings.
“Counseling is a growth opportunity providing students the opportunity to discuss personal concerns or issues with a counselor,” Biskup explained. “There are so many wonderful and effective techniques to help students work through issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, grief, identity issues, eating issues, substance abuse/addiction, family and peer relationships, sleep and adjustment issues.”
Although symptoms of depression vary, common signs include feeling sad, anxious, irritable, and restless while also experiencing loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, lack of energy, problems falling asleep, loss of appetite and feelings of sickness.
For many college students, being away from home can cause feelings of depression.
“Sometimes students arrive on campus with untreated depressive symptoms. Additionally, students can be vulnerable to depression during transitions and going away to college is a transition,” said Biskup.
Depression is not something students have to face alone, as friend groups can act as an influential support systems.
“Listening to your friends is truly a gift. Additionally, recognizing and validating your friends feelings while gently encouraging your friend to seek professional help,” Biskup explained. “It can be helpful to offer to walk over to make an appointment to see a campus counselor with a friend or ask permission to make the phone call for an appointment. If it is an emergency or crisis, a student doesn’t need an appointment. The student will be seen immediately by one of the campus counselors upon arrival at Health and Wellness Services located on the first floor of Passan Hall.”
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, immediately contact a mental health provider, call 911, or the National Suicide prevention Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline, 1-800-273-TALK to speak with a trained counselor.