More college students are suffering from depression and mental health issues than in past years, according to a study by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State in Pennsylvania.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month. About 1,100 suicides happen on a college campus per year, and the number is increasing, according to an article in The New York Times.
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can lead to a student committing suicide, said Mindy Windholz, a personal counselor in university counseling.
“A lot of the time people try to mask the depression and anxiety,” Windholz said. “In the end, it is better to see someone and get some help, though.”
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health diagnoses among college students, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
Signs of anxiety include worrying, intrusive thoughts such as doubt, irritability, trouble sleeping, tension in relationships, inability to focus and concentrate. Early signs of depression include loss of interest, trouble sleeping, loss or increase of appetite, irritability, and isolation.
“I see a lot of anxiety in college students and a lot of it comes from the thought that I have wanted to do this since I was little and now I am here and I don’t know what to do,” Windholz said. “And a lot of the time anxiety can mask depression.”
Windholz also said she sees students who have anxiety who think they aren’t good enough to attend OCU.
“In high school they are often deemed gifted and talented and they come here where everyone is gifted and talented and then they start to think that they aren’t good enough,” Windholz said. “Often times it is just trying to adjust to college life.”
Windholz said there are many ways for students to cope with adjusting to college life, including having a good support system of friends and family and staying active.
“Going for a walk, even just 15 minutes of the day can do wonders for our bodies and our minds,” Windholz said. “It gives us a chance to decompress after a long day.”
Sarah Cason, psychology junior, said having an on-site counseling center is good.
“This is a growing concern for colleges,” Cason said. “Just being able to walk across campus and having someone who is willing and able to talk to them is good.”
OCU has no record of a student committing suicide.
“This is something that not a lot of people think about but is a reality in our world,” Windholz said. “I think it’s important for students to know they have resources available and we are here for them.”
Students can received six to eight free counseling sessions from the university counseling center.
To schedule an appointment, call 405 208-5492.