When asking my friends how their weeks have been, most complain of busyness, tiredness, stress and other conditions common to active college students. Let’s face it; college is no cake- walk. We have papers to write, exams to study for, friends to hang out with, intramural games to play, meetings to attend, laundry to do, eating and sleeping, too. With only so many hours in each day, students can easily feel overwhelmed and stressed. College life presents students with many challenges, especially for freshmen who experience the change all at once. With many obligations and commitments pressing on them, students may experience some degree of depression. Thirty percent of college students report being “so depressed that it was difficult to function,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Contributing factors include academic stress, relationship problems, homesickness, finances and loneliness.
Unfortunately, most of these students do not address their mental health. Many “students cited embarrassment as the number one reason someone wouldn’t seek help,” according to Psychology Central.
Counselors strive to make the student feel comfortable by entering the situation with zero judgment. Furthermore, counseling sessions remain confidential. In addition, one does not need to worry about the counselor sharing his or her problems with anyone else. While we want to trust our friends to not share what we disclose to them, people make mistakes. Our friends are not bound by law to keep our secrets the way counselors must.
With the way society portrays therapeutic practices, I understand why people do not want to admit they attend counseling sessions. Movies, television shows and celebrity figures usually present counseling patients as addicts, mentally unstable or suicidal. As a result, many people have a skewed view of the symptoms that may qualify a counseling need. Some may believe they are not “crazy” or “desperate” enough to see a counselor. This is false. Feeling lonely or anxious or lacking motivation are all legitimate reasons to speak to a counselor, according to the Mayo Clinic. Seeking counsel- ing even when you feel “a bit blue” can ultimately prevent you from ever reaching an severe stage of depression.
Impaired academic performance, problems with relationships, loss or gain of weight and substance abuse can result from depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. After the early signs of depres- sion, eating disorders, alcoholism and severe forms of depression, such as suicidal tendencies, may develop.
Students should not feel embarrassed about depression. Everyone experiences times of unhappiness and frustration throughout life. It is normal and healthy for people to talk to someone about their problems, expose their feelings without fear of judgment and admit they need help.
At Whitworth, the Health and Counseling Center offers six free sessions to each student. I encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity. Whether you have exam anxiety, suf- fer from seasonal depression, or just feel stuck in a rut, the counseling center has amazing staff that want nothing more than to support you.
Rebekah Breese Columnist
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