Why Students Don’t Seek Services
For students, stigma remains the most significant barrier to seeking treatment. “Our research shows a high self-perceived stigma,” said Knowles. Specifically, according to a 2006 study, students cited embarrassment as the number one reason someone wouldn’t seek help. Only 23 percent would be comfortable with a friend knowing they were getting help for emotional issues.
Students also might not seek help because of concerns over confidentiality and finances and the fear that accepting they’re struggling will mean they can’t lead a productive life. Such concerns cause students to keep their emotional troubles to themselves, reinforcing the stigma and making life far more difficult than it need be.
For students struggling with anxiety and depression, the best place to start is the on-campus counseling center. Unfortunately, some centers do have waiting lists. While waiting for services or if your school doesn’t have a counseling center get a referral for a therapist in the community or speak with an approachable professor, career counselor or resident assistant. Also, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-TALK, which isn’t just a crisis line; students can get advice and have someone to talk to.
According to Silver, to avoid Identity Disorientation, before leaving home, ask yourself “who you are on the inside, not just the label you’ve taken back at home, such as captain of the cheerleading squad or the straight A student.” Consider the following:
- What makes me happy, sad, frustrated, etc.?
- What are my values and beliefs?
- What accomplishments and traits am I proud of?
- Can I stick up for myself and ensure my emotional and physical safety in a way that is socially acceptable and appropriate?
To combat depression and anxiety, work on coping skills and know your personal limits, said Dr. Davis. Monitor your stressors, expectations and sudden changes in motivation and energy, he said. Lifestyle is directly related to emotional health, so it’s vital to get enough sleep, eat well and avoid caffeine and excessive drinking.
Although the Internet shouldn’t replace an evaluation with a therapist or treatment, reputable Web sites can serve as good sources of information. In addition to Psych Central, consult these sites:
- Healthy Minds, provided by the American Psychiatric Association, has information on mental health, including prevention, symptoms and treatment and tips for students and parents.
- ULifeline offers a screening tool, developed by the Duke University Medical Center, and contact information for university counseling centers.
- Half of Us features inspirational interviews with artists and athletes along with information on mental health. You can also access the screening tool here.
- The JED Foundation provides resources and research on mental health and suicide prevention for parents, students and colleges.
- Campus Calm gives high school and college students the tools to combat stress.