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UNE Student’s Mental Health Support System

Ashley Bankhead, Opinions Editor

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Mental health is a major issue on college campuses. The amount of stress and work that students are expected to endure can feel unbearable at times. In fact, studies show that 80% of students feel overwhelmed and completely swamped by their responsibilities. However, many people, both students and non-students, underestimate the severity and prevalence of mental disorders in young adults. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 25% of college students have a diagnosable mental illness. Of those students, only 40% seek help and treatment. Left untreated these mental illnesses can turn into serious impediments in life or school, substance abuse or even chronic medical problems. The 5 largest mental health illnesses that college students are diagnosed with are depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, eating disorders, and addiction. These mental health disorders are correlated with lower GPAs, higher dropout rates and higher suicide rates. Many students do not seek help from either professional psychologists/psychiatrists or their campus counseling centers. 80-90% of college suicides were committed by students who were not being treated or helped. This could be the reason that suicide is the leading cause of death among college students followed by alcohol-related incidents.

Nor’easter News interviewed the Director of Counseling Services, Dr. John Langevin, about mental health at UNE. Dr. Langevin, who is very proud of UNE’s Counseling Centers, stated that “We are fortunate to have professionals who truly care about our students. This may be true in other schools, but we have worked hard over the years to hire an excellent team of counselors!…Our counselors are hand picked for experience, understanding of the unique issues confronting UNE students, and for their passion for working with students.” UNE is fortunate enough to have counseling centers on both Biddeford and Portland campuses. They help many students who struggle with everything from academic problems to relationship issues and depression. When asked about how college counseling centers compare to traditional therapists, Langevin stated “We are licensed as anyone in private practice and are trained in traditional methodologies. And, we are certainly more convenient!”

Counseling on a college campus also provides insight on how the system works from professionals at that university who can also act as advocators for students. This proximity to administrators and important persons within the university can sometimes cause students to avoid counseling out of fear of academic backlash. Langevin made of a point of speaking about any worries about confidentiality, “We know that students need to feel safe and secure when they decide to talk. Give us a chance to show that we can provide that with our excellent and caring staff.” Students are highly encouraged to visit the counseling centers at the University of New England if they want to talk about any and all difficulties they may be experiencing. Getting help is as easy as walking through the door.

Many students do not know the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses or how to decide if they need treatment and where to get it. If you have are experiencing difficulties with mental health or have a friend whom you are concerned about, LearnPsychology recommends these simple steps: acknowledge your feelings, express your concerns to your friend or someone you trust, encourage or seek out treatment, and accept the possibility that your mental illness symptoms cannot be solved by yourself. UNE also has a page of recommended self-help resources, including the suicide prevention crisis hotline (888-568-1112).

 

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