The LiveWell office is located in LJSU.
It’s time we change the way we talk about mental health.
According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50 percent of students rated their mental health below average and 80 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a student. The study reports that mental health issues are on the rise among college students as they face problems with anxiety and depression.
The annual number of suicides on college campuses has reached a staggering 1,000 students. Mental health experts at Coastal Carolina University believe it is time to more publicly advertise their services and programs for students who are struggling.
Chris Donevant-Haines is the assistant director at LiveWell and an advisor for SHORE Peer Educators. Haines believes that language in context plays a large role in encouraging students to seek help.
She said, “words like ‘commit’ are associated with negative actions such as crimes and sins and can be stigmatizing to survivors. If we develop a deeper understanding of how many people are impacted by mental health ‘concerns’ and not the term ‘illness,’ I believe it could save lives.”
Donevant-Haines hopes to change the direction of these sensitive discussions, so more students will be encouraged to seek counseling before it gets to a critical point or a crisis.
“Counseling is for everyone, and whether it is a small issue or major issue in life, having someone who you know is going to be objective, non-judgemental, safe, and confidential can help offer guidance and support before everything has fallen apart,” said Donevant-Haines.
Studies have found that only 18 to 34 percent of students with anxiety and depression seek help.
Sean Pierce, a counselor at Coastal Carolina University, advocates for the counseling services in hopes that students consider the service as a way to improve their quality of life and cope with the challenges of college and young adulthood.
“We know more students than ever before report higher degrees of stress and anxiety,” said Pierce. “College is more expensive than it has ever been. It is a huge investment. Students are expected to ‘deliver the good’ and not squander this precious opportunity. We always recommend utilizing [sic] all the resources available to students such as friends, mentors, family, as well as counseling services,” said Pierce. “Ideally, the best chance for change occurs when the person is ready, willing and able to change.”
The university also provides additional resources for students who are not comfortable with seeking counseling.
Online services such as Lifeline, YouLiveWell, and social media campaigns like #RealConvo encourage students to evaluate their mental health.
Megan Chouinard, a Public Health major, considers it important for universities to lead the discussion on promoting mental health.
“I have really been impressed with the efforts this university has done to let every student know that they are not alone,” said Chouinard. “There are online resources, events and promotions, and different types of counseling methods to give each student their own personal experience with counseling and figure out what works best for them.”
Shore Peer Educators and LiveWell Offices have teamed up with counseling services to host events focused on self-discovery, body image, and victim awareness throughout the year.
For more information on upcoming mental health events and services visit www.coastal.edu/livewell or follow @CCUShore on social media.