Story and photos by KAYLEE ANDERSON
There’s a rising epidemic on college campus and it’s not what you would expect.
Mental health is becoming a problem and it reaches new heights with young adults between the ages of 19-25, the typical demographic of college students. With so many new stresses coming into play, 49.5 percent of adolescents are affected by some kind of mental health disorder, according to youth.gov.
The University of Utah understands these problems and has many resources for students who need help. For example, the Counseling Center is located on the fourth floor of the Student Services Building. Most students aren’t aware of the services that are provided to them.
Steve Lucero is the center’s associate director. He encourages students to come check out the center and everything it has to offer. Lucero says that depression in college is a normal thing that can happen because of major life transitions, and for most students, college is the first big event that occurs in their lives.
“The magnitude of changes and lifestyles can be a difficult adjustment that triggers depression and anxiety,” Lucero says.
Lucero and the rest of the counselors at the center say that process is quite easy to follow. Students can call or come into the center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once they are there, they take a survey with a series of questions to determine the measure of distress the students are in.
If the students are in crisis, a crisis center is available at all time for them. Being in crisis is when you are in a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. If they aren’t in crisis mode but still want to get help, they will be assigned a counselor and an appointment time. Group counseling, yoga, workshops, or individual counseling is available. The intake appointment, crisis center and workshops are all free for students. The group counseling is only $5 and the individual sessions are $12. These are very reasonable prices Lucero says.
The counseling center has two advanced practice registered nurses who can prescribe medication, which can be the next step after talk therapy.
Lucero wants more students to be aware of the services provided on campus.
Ashley Nagel is a sophomore at the University of Utah. She says her depression was very much heightened when she first went to college. Nagel says that moving away from her parents in Draper, was very hard and she didn’t realize how big of an impact it was going to have on her mental health and body. Going from a family house setting to a dorm room can be hard for young adults without them even realizing it. Nagel also says that she thought she had to have everything figured out when she first got to college, which heightened her anxiety.
Nagel hasn’t used the services on campus, but she wishes they were a bit more advertised because she feels like many students don’t know they exist. That is what Lucero is trying to accomplish by using social media and presenting to classes and other university groups about the center and all it has to offer.
Nagel says, “My depression is mostly socially related, so when I found a solid group of people that I felt genuinely comfortable with, my depression became a lot less of an issue.”
According to Self Magazine, 30 percent of people who suffer from mental illness never seek treatment.
Devin Johnson, a sophomore at Salt Lake Community College, says drugs and alcohol may have something to do with it. “Everyone just wants to party so they become distant from their real friends and befriend people who just like to use drugs and alcohol because they are so caught up in the having the college experience,” Johnson says.
Salt Lake Community College has a counseling center as well as the University of Utah, but Johnson says he has never been aware of that and doesn’t know where it is located. It is called the Center for Health and Counseling. It provides massage therapy as an option for students, which is very unique, as well and group and individual counseling.
If university counseling centers don’t work out for students there are so many other psychiatrists around the Salt Lake Valley who are accepting new patients.
Jessica Arbogast is a family nurse practitioner who practices at the Martindale Clinic, which is located in downtown Salt Lake City on 340 E. 200 South, only five minutes from the University of Utah campus. She is willing to take new patients at this time and is very good with adolescents.
The Martindale Clinic is also a part of the Odyssey House, which helps people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This can be another problem for college students and can increase depression and anxiety.
People who start taking an antidepressant to help with mental illness should avoid drugs and alcohol because it may mess with the medication, Arbogast says.
She sees a large rise in the number of patients between the ages of 19-25, especially 19-21. “There are so many new stresses that come in play that people in high school did not deal with,” Arbogast says. Some of these newfound stresses include living without a parent, high stress classes, work, lack of sleep and meeting new people.
The Martindale Clinic and the Odyssey House are very affordable options for college students who can’t afford treatment or advising. They also are good options for students who attend other schools, colleges, or just live around the area and want to get help.
Mental illness is a huge problem for students, but there is no more need to hide behind it. So many people are dealing with the disorder and help can be found easily. No battle is too big to overcome.
The time to act is now.