According to statistics from the National Alliance for Mental Illness, 44 percent of American college students report having symptoms of depression and/or anxiety and a troubling 75 percent of those students do not seek medical help or counseling. Furthermore, suicide is the third leading killer of college students in the United States.
It should be clear that we are experiencing a mental health crisis. And yet, while so many students find themselves struggling with issues like Imposter Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, agoraphobia and more, the task of finding treatment or help is extra frustrating. At the UNO campus, you will find stickers in most bathrooms stating that suicide is preventable with a hotline you can call. But do students, especially those who are brand new to the college experience, really know what resources are available to them?
While UNO provides a significant amount of counseling resources, students living on campus may be discouraged to learn that Counseling Services do not provide medication management. According to their website, “[s]tudents whose mental health needs cannot be accommodated within a short-term counseling model are provided with referrals to community resources. Similarly, students whose needs require a particular type of expertise that is not found in UNOCS are also referred to outside resources that can better address their mental health needs.”
For many individuals, especially those with severe mood disorders, medication management is a crucial part of their psychological health. And yet, students at UNO must defer to off campus assistance in an urban environment that already exacerbates the mental health issues of its non-student inhabitants. The bureaucracy of navigating our nation’s mental health services are daunting for anyone and can be especially so for students who are experiencing life away from home for the very first time.
So what can and should students with severe anxiety or another mental health issue (such as suicidal thoughts) do? Being pushed to wait for counseling services can oftentimes feel like a rejection. (At press time, the author of this piece has tried calling Counseling Services three times at the number listed on the website as the primary contact (504) 280-6683 only to receive the following message “You have reached the mailbox of…you have reached a number that is not assigned to a user. To leave a message press the pound key.” The website suggests students can get an appointment by going in person to UC during the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in room 226 and should call 911 for after hours mental health emergencies.)
According to NAMI’s website, “If you can wait a few days, make an appointment with your primary healthcare provider or pediatrician if you think your condition is mild to moderate. If your symptoms are moderate to severe, make an appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist. You may need to contact your community mental health center or primary health care provider for a referral.”
If it is not an emergency try spending time outside with a friend and getting off of social media for a few hours, exercising, and practicing self-care. Students should always be sure to sleep well, eat well, and stay hydrated.
Local psychiatrists include Integrated Behavioral Health. For information on mental health and resources, visit NAMI’s website at www.nami.org.
Sometimes medication is a crucial component of mental healthcare. “Pill-a-fly” photo by takgoti courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.