Continuing the conversation about mental health

JOEY SEMEL–

We all know that mental health is a topic that needs addressing on Denison’s campus. We all know that we want change. Yet, I don’t hear much about what specifically needs to be changed.

Here are three things I would like to see addressed during the summer months.

Creating and establishing an open dialogue

While it has improved, there is still a stigma about mental health. It’s time for that stigma to change. People still look down on others with mental health issues. People still make suicide jokes.

It doesn’t need to be the case. If we have spaces where we can discuss these issues, then there is no place to go except up.

There’s no reason to feel that way. A remarkably high number of college student suffer from mental health concerns.

According to collegestats.org, more than 80% of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. 50% of college students said that they have below average mental health.

These are shockingly high percentages, especially when you consider that only 7% of parents felt that their children suffered from mental health issues.

That statistic really represents why we need an open dialogue. Students know they are struggling with these things. Students understand that it’s an issue for not only them, but for college students everywhere. The disconnect comes when those students don’t feel like they can talk about it with their parents or their peers.

Changing that isn’t going to happen overnight, but it does need to happen from the bottom up, starting with August Orientation.

An added focus on the importance of mental health and well-being during August Orientation would give the incoming freshman the ability to be the leaders on campus regarding this issue. They will be the ones who are most passionate about it, and can help educate not only the classes that come behind them, but also the classes ahead of them.

Something needs to change. This feels like a pretty good way to start.

Transparency from the administration

Do you know anything about Whisler’s protocol regarding cases of mental health? When parents get involved? When hospitals get involved? When Whisler themselves get involved?

The school has a ton of resources available. The issue is that students don’t know where to find them.

For example, Whisler has an entire “Additional Resources” page for students regarding mental health. There are pages about resources ranging from “Depression/Bipolar Illness/Suicide,” all the way to a section that helps students deal with grief and loss.

Whisler has information on all of their processes and their counselors for the school year.

Another idea is telling us a little bit more about the who the counselors in Whisler actually are. I know who some of them are, but I really don’t know anything about them. That needs to change.

Changing Whisler’s walk-in hour(s)

As it stands, walk-in hours are just an hour a day. From 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. While people have class. While people are on A-quad. While people have club meetings.

The bottom line is that people need more than an hour a day, and people need the time to be spread out throughout the day.

What I propose, as we keep the 11:30-12:30 slot and the 3:30-4:30 slot that has been added for the rest of the semester, only we add another hour from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. This assures that students who need to get in to walk-in hours have a chance to. They won’t need to choose between skipping class and getting the help that they need, that they pay for, and that they deserve.

After talking with people who suffer from Depression, it is clear how unhelpful the 11:30 time slot can really be, as Depression affects people at different times throughout the day. Some people have it worse during the morning, and that is when the 11:30 slot is helpful. However, it is the opposite for some people, and they feel most depressed at night. Providing night time walk-in hours helps combat that.

The bottom line is that we had deaths on this campus due to mental health during this past year. Not much has changed. And it’s time to change that.

Joey Semel is a communication major and a psychology minor from McLean, Virginia.