Seeking mental health help is crucial for college success

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 3/13/16 11:32pm


When you’re five cups of coffee in and two papers behind, your mental health usually isn’t the first thing on your mind. In fact, it’s probably the last.

As college students, we’ve been told to study as much as possible, get a healthy amount of sleep, maintain our grades, participate in extracurricular activities and still have time for what’s left of our social life. It's a precious balancing act that takes a lot of time and skill to maintain, and many students can't prioritize all of those things at one time.

In an effort to ease a little bit of the stress and provide for some much needed “me” time, Grand Valley State University's student senate has teamed up with the Counseling Center to host the first ever Mental Health Awareness Week, starting this Monday.

This campaign is a great and necessary addition to our campus. We tend to treat mental health as taboo, but we need to take away the stigma of talking about mental health. College is a tough, stressful time in life and, like it or not, most of us have a long road ahead of us. Knowing your personal limitations and strategies for handling stress is imperative.

By teaming up with the Counseling Center, students will be able to participate in QPR training, a specific type of training that deals with mental health crisis situations. Students are encouraged to take part in the training so they can better help their friends or classmates if they need someone to talk to.

Taking preventative measures against mental health issues is often something that college students ignore. Students work and work until they are so stressed out that things fall apart. It's important to intervene before things get out of control. Finding strategies to relieve stress, designing your schedule so that you can handle all of the responsibilities and seeking outside help when you need it are great ways to keep your mental health in check.

The dangers of keeping issues or concerns bottled up inside are rarely tangible until they actually occur. Though burying problems and pretending they don't exist often seems like the first lesson in College Student 101, counseling services exist on college campuses across the nation for a reason. Counselors exist to help, to serve and to listen. Disregarding the idea of visiting a counseling center because of a negative stigma, predetermined ideas or skepticism can quickly shut the door on exactly what a number of college students are looking for – someone to listen.

Ultimately, keeping yourself mentally healthy will help you not only now but in the future. All jobs and personal lives have stress. There's no way to avoid it. Over time, stress can lead to ulcers, heart attacks and sometimes strokes. Working on strategies for handling stress now will help you handle the stress of the future in a healthier way.

Sometimes we forget that it's OK to ask for help and don't look for the resources around us. Making mental health awareness present and accessible on campus is a key step toward making our community a safer and more comfortable place.

It's OK to not be OK, but it's never acceptable to disregard the resources available that can help you. Lakers, if you're feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious or you think something just isn't quite right, take this opportunity to seek the help you need to be mentally healthy.

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