The New York Times has noted that some of the schools with the best mental health programs “have been spurred by some of the worst tragedies.”
Suicides and shootings have struck the campuses of New York University, Virginia Tech and MIT, but have had positive impact on each campus’s mental health programs, mostly through the expansion of services.
This pattern questions the future actions of Pima Community College, the alma mater of the man charged with the Tucson shooting, Jared L. Loughner.
Pima has reported that Loughner had encounters with the campus police due to complaints about him from faculty members and students and was later asked to leave the college last September.
College officials suspected that Loughner was mentally ill, but he did not receive mental health care because Pima does not offer mental health care programs.
In response to these recent articles, Dr. Sally Edman, the head of counseling services at Northwestern, says, “Our students should take seriously how much something like a depressive episode, serious disruption in the family or the grieving of a loss can impact a person socially or academically.
“ The wellness center encourages students who don’t feel like they can deal with tough situations on their own to set up an appointment.“ Edman said.
A few NW students share what stresses them out the most.
Senior Marji Mulder finds that she especially stresses out about big assignments. When asked what relieves her stress, she replied, “I usually sleep or knit. I also try to just get the assignment done and when it is done I try to relax.”
Senior Daniel Unekis finds that he is most stressed when he has procrastinated and small tasks build up at once. He also comments, “I usually find stress to be a highly motivating force. I try to harness the extra energy it gives me and use it to get on top of things. I am most productive when stressed.”
Freshman Christa Curl finds that papers and exams cause her the most stress. Curl tries to escape stress by getting enough sleep and avoiding procrastination.
Curl is involved in women’s choir, theatre, and an intramural basketball team and to avoid becoming stressed she says, “I have to get things done ahead of time and try to plan around my activities.”
According to Edman, “Awareness about mental health is a part of the education that NW tries to offer.” The Wellness Center provides individual and group counseling. “We have counseled roommates, couples, and other groups,” said Edman.
The Wellness Center also does campus outreach activities to create awareness about depression, eating disorders and other health-related topics.
Edman gives some last advice, stating “When your body is sleep- deprived and you are not eating healthy foods, your body is not getting the support it needs to function. Exercise is hugely effective in regulating mood.”
Stress from activities, academics, sports and personal affairs are inevitable. Therefore, it is even more crucial to be aware of what our bodies need to be whole and well. NW provides the means and support not only for academic and intellectual success, but physical and emotional wellness as well.