Student Engagement and Wellness
Mental Health: It’s Important
By Kristen Lotze
There is no doubt that we live in stressful times.
Add balancing a job, college, social and familial responsibilities, and financial obligations to that equation – and it’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed! Everyone struggles to find an equilibrium sometimes, but MSU Denver wants to make sure you’re aware that you don’t have to handle the struggle all on your own. In fact, there are many fantastic and very useful resources, which can offer much of the support you need right here on campus.
When it comes to mental health and dealing with emotional/mental distress, it is important to remember some helpful “do’s” and “don’ts.” Dr. Gail Bruce-Sanford, Executive Director of the Counseling Center at MSU Denver, offers some helpful advice.
DO understand the importance of mental health and self-care
Many issues are layered in complexity; students may not always see the connections to deeper-seated issues. When in doubt about the severity of a particular issue, it’s always a good idea to seek professional help. A counselor/psychologist will be able to help determine the best method of treatment moving forward.
It’s also critical to remember the importance of self-care: adequate sleep, healthy exercise, healthy diets, meaningful connections with supportive people, avoid isolation, avoid substance abuse and lead a balanced life-style.
DON’T suffer in silence
Many people are hesitant to seek help because they may not think they need it, they are uncomfortable or ashamed, or they don’t want anyone to know about it. However, allowing issues to manifest internally is not good for one’s physical or mental well-being. With so many free and confidential resources available, there is no reason not to seek help/treatment if you feel you may be dealing with mental or emotional distress. It is important to remember that while the internet and social media can provide some useful guidance, advice for coping with potential psychological issues is best left to the professionals.
DO know the “warning signs” of emotional/mental distress
Early identification of the “warning signs” can be key. They include: sadness, social withdrawal, inappropriate expressions of anger, problems with focus and concentration, confusion, excessive worry, sleep and appetite changes, unexplained mood changes and expressions of hopelessness.
DON’T be afraid to help a friend or classmate you see struggling with mental/emotional distress
If you have witnessed “warning signs” of mental/emotional distress in a friend or classmate, there are some things you can do:
- Try to speak privately with them about your observations and show concern about how they are doing.
- Be compassionate and caring in your approach.
- Suggest an appointment with a mental health professional.
- Share information about the Counseling Center on campus.
Keep in mind that it is normal for the person to hesitate or resist your efforts altogether. That’s why it’s important to approach the situation delicately, focusing on the benefits of treatment and suggesting a consultation appointment to start. It is important to remember not to take on the problem yourself; state your limits.
Also remember the CARE Team provides early assessment and referral when a student’s behavior is flagged as concerning, risky, or potentially harmful to self, others, or the community. Anyone can make a CARE report by simply going to the Dean of Students website and filling out the online form.
DON’T be embarrassed to ask for help
There is often a “stigma” when it comes to issues relating to mental health and mental/emotional distress; but remember, there is absolutely no shame is asking for help. Your mental and emotional health is important. Also, be sure not to reinforce the stigma of help-seeking to others. Being open to, and accepting of, the process of getting help is crucial to success. Getting a professional opinion/perspective can prevent the issue from getting too overwhelming.
DO know your resources
MSU Denver offers a myriad of options for all its students to take advantage of, including:
- MSU Denver Counseling Center: Located in Tivoli 651. Click to visit the Counseling Center website. Or call 303-615-9988.
- MSU Denver CARE Team: Click to visit the Dean of Students website. Fill out a CARE Report. Or call 303-615-0220.
- Health Center at Auraria (psychiatric care available): Located in Plaza Building Suite. Click to visit the Health Center website. Or to schedule an appointment by phone, call 303-556-2525.
- For after-hours mental health and victim assistance needs, call the 24/7 Crisis Line at 303-352-4455 to be connected with a professional counselor.
MSU Denver cares about its student body and wants to make your experience here as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, and that means making sure every student understands the University-based support they have available to them. If you are having a tough time, there is absolutely no shame in reaching out and asking for help – that’s why these resources exist.
Also know that MSU Denver faculty and staff are just as willing to help or offer their assistance whenever possible. Students: Check your MSU Denver email to read the memo on this topic from Dean of Students, Braelin Pantel.