College is a precarious balance between the greatest time of your life and the most stressful and overwhelming. Between classes, homework, holding a job and desperately trying to have a social life, it is easy to become dangerously overwhelmed.
Luckily, here on campus we are blessed enough to have an incredibly accessible counseling center, which offers five free counseling sessions to aid in the mental health of CSU students. You can go in just to talk or to work through things going on in your life to a completely unbiased third party with no judgment attached. And yet, even when given these privileges, it seems as if students rarely take advantage of them.
Society seems to put some kind of stigma on mental health treatments, painting counseling as lying on a ridiculous couch and blaming your parents for everything wrong with your life. It’s easy enough to believe that only crazy people need therapy and to go see a therapist is simply admitting that you can’t handle life on your own.
In my own experiences talking to students here, it seems like a lot of people grew up in households that do not condone admitting to wanting to see a therapist. As if that is an indication of weakness. So when life hits the point where it’s hard to handle, it never crosses their mind to go in just for someone to talk to, or to see if further treatments such as antidepressants are recommended. They instead just sit and hope that conditions improve, but are adamantly against going to see a shrink.
I would like to dispel the stigma around mental health: the idea that it’s not nearly as important as physical health. In the medical community, it seems as though psychiatrists don’t receive the credit that they’re due — many average people don’t even recognize them as medical doctors. Many of those same people cannot tell me the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but apparently they do know that they don’t need one.
But I can tell you right now that if you are not mentally right, your body won’t be either. The mind and the body are so inextricably linked that if one isn’t working properly, the other will suffer. When people break an arm, they’ll rush right to the hospital. But if they wake up most mornings and feel constantly submerged in water, like they can’t get a breath of fresh air, they refuse to go talk to someone for fear of being seen as crazy.
If you are in a rough place right now, if your thoughts are turning suicidal because you feel as if you’ve run out of options, I cannot stress how important it is to just give counseling a try. It is so far from admitting weakness; I believe that accepting help from people around you is showing greater strength than anything else. Do not get caught in a cycle where you feel as if you have nowhere else to turn; it says a lot that complete strangers on campus simply want to reach out a helping hand.
The stigma surrounding counseling needs to end with us, it is never okay to judge someone based on their therapy attendance. Many people simply need a sounding board, someone that will listen to what they have to say without passing judgment.
Be unnecessarily kind, because you have no idea the battles other people are facing. People handle stress in a variety of different ways — some people wear it on their sleeve and some keep it hidden behind a carefully cultivated mask. But everyone here has a cross to bear, and fellow students need to be the most understanding if someone feels like therapy might help them sort out some of their skeletons.
It is not a weakness and it is not something you feel like you have to do in secret; therapy has helped countless people manage the stress that they are under.
If you have a friend that you feel needs a third party’s unbiased help, don’t be afraid to turn them towards the counseling center. And if you are feeling trapped and overwhelmed, know that there is always someone there to turn to, filled with people that are looking out for your well-being.
Brittany Jordan is a junior psychology major. Feedback of all varieties can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.