Students: learn to ask for help

Mental health in college students is deeply undertreated.

JensenToussaintCollege can be the most stressful years of one’s life between studying for exams, midterms and finals, working on projects, writing papers, paying tuition, late nights and early mornings.

This is universally accepted. What isn’t, however, is how mental health is affected and handled. Depression, anxiety, physical ailments, substance abuse and eating disorders, and in extreme cases, even suicide are all too common among college students.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, a 2014 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study showed. Within 7.4 percent of full-time college students, ages 18-22 had serious thoughts of suicide, 2.1 percent made suicide plans and 1 percent actually attempted suicide in the past year alone.

When questioned about their suicidal thoughts and attempts, the study showed that most college students replied in a similar manner—they felt sad or depressed, overwhelmed and hopeless, or lonely.

College is often viewed as a time of joyous fun, however, that simply doesn’t hold true for every student. There is no reason for a student to allow four years of college lead to possibly life-long problems.

Colleges and universities in the nation provide students with resources to help with many issues that may be ailing students. Temple is one of these universities.

Tuttleman Counseling Services “provide an atmosphere that is informal and professional, where you can feel safe and comfortable seeking help,” the official site says.

Denise Walton, a psychologist and the associate director at Tuttleman, said the center deals with a variety of issues including alcohol/substance awareness, general psychology, sexual assault counseling/education, group therapy and more.

“We’d like [the students] to be as educated as possible and we try to help them be able to manage their symptoms,” Walton said.

More students who feel they may have a problem should want to use the free available resources. The Wellness Resource Center is another one of these departments available for students who may be struggling with issues.

Allison Herman, the mental well-being program coordinator at the center, said only about two students come to her each month, asking for consultation.

There are likely a much larger number of students who could possibly use the help, so why don’t more students seek it out?

“There is this stigma surrounding mental health and suicide prevention,” Herman said. “Their background, where they come from or how they were brought up, they might feel uncomfortable or ashamed, or see getting help or telling people about it is a sign of weakness. Some students may not know they even have a problem.”

Herman said many don’t come because they aren’t willing to admit they need help.

These resources available at Temple can’t be of help to students unless they make the effort to reach out to them. All the outside factors surrounding mental health should not take precedence over the internal struggles the students may be facing.

These sessions are confidential and do not leave the confines of the room. Feeling embarrassed or feeling as though you should only seek help in times of crisis is the wrong approach. The sooner students reach out for help, the less likely more problems will arise in the future.

There is even a self-help tab available on the Tuttleman Counseling Services site that allows students to screen themselves beforehand and see if they may suffer from any symptoms that relate to various health disorders before seeking help.

Walton said students would likely be more comfortable talking about their issues if people looked out for each other rather than judged, while Herman said by explaining why students may be feeling a certain way and helping them understand it would help students better handle the stress that comes with college.

I would advise college students to try to be more mindful of the consequences of not seeking help when you feel you may have a problem, rather than the consequences of seeking help and just allowing things to get worse.

Choosing the former can lead to a better college environment, less of a stigma around mental health and a lower suicide rate among college-aged students.

Jensen Toussaint can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. —-There is this stigma surrounding mental health and suicide

    It is interesting you have been taught that. Care to discuss it?

    You can search my name on the net for my interest.

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

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