Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Students need help, not judgment

College is a trying time for everyone. The abrupt transition from high school teenager to a young adult who has very adult worries on top of the workload of classes and extracurriculars is rough. But for some students, it can be completely overwhelming.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that 13 percent of college students reported being diagnosed with anxiety or depression in 2008, and in the same year 9 percent of students reported being suicidal.
These numbers seem small, but at a college the size of Augustana around 340 Augustana students have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Many more are likely suffering in silence, unable or unaware that what they are experiencing is beyond the “normal” reaction to the stresses of college life.
Statistically, nine out of every 100 students actually committing suicide would mean that roughly 235 Augustana students would not make it to the end of the school year. That is a terrifying number.
Thankfully, Augustana has a free counseling service available to all enrolled students. Our campus supports National Suicide Awareness week, advertising statistics regarding mental health and college students. Our small classes allow professors to notice when students are visibly struggling somehow.
But free services, raising awareness and caring professors are not the only things that college students need to combat mental health concerns in themselves and in their peers.
The stigma that continues to surround mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety prevents students from seeking counseling or being officially diagnosed. This keeps students from realizing that they have a legitimate problem.
Instead, depressed and anxious students are led to believe that they are somehow lazy or overreacting. A student with depression should not have to fear judgment from a roommate on days when they cannot get themselves out of bed. A student with anxiety should not be afraid to tell their professor that a panic attack forced them to leave class early.
To truly help students with mental health concerns, we all need to stop treating mental illness like it is something a person can just “get over.” We need to stop acting like the person suffering from it is faking or overreacting. We all need to work to making our campus and our world a safer, more accepting place for people who deal with mental illness.

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Students need help, not judgment