Mental Health Outreach seeks to provide new community

A new group has been born on campus, seeking to empower students on the topic of mental illness.

Guilford College Mental Health Outreach was created to support and educate individuals who have either been diagnosed or impacted by mental illness.

“I felt like there needed to be a larger amount of awareness and support for those who have mental health issues,” said junior Shelby Smith, who started Guilford Outreach. “College is a time in which stress and mental strain are as common as lengthy papers and student loans.

“There needs to be a clear and available network of individuals who support those suffering from mental health problems in order to truly make our college years the wonderful times that they should be.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin around age 24. With college enrollment increasing across the country, counseling centers have also noticed an increase in mental health issues experienced by students.

According to these statistics, groups like Guilford Outreach could be more necessary than some may think.

“Both at Guilford and in the college population in general, anxiety and depression are the most common presenting problems,” said Director of Counseling Gaither Terrell.

“Both can have many antecedents, and these will vary from one person to another. For instance, one person may have a genetic vulnerability to increased anxiety, while another’s excessive anxiety may be brought on by a specific event or situation.”

At school, mental health issues can get in the way of academics and social life.

“It took my father forever to understand that, yes, in high school, it was important for me and my brother to be on ADD medication because we couldn’t focus without them,” said senior Vita Price. “While we could go without them, we both probably would have flunked out of high school, if not middle school.”

Guilford Outreach plans to be a support group for students with mental illness, as well as a way to educate people who want to learn more. Smith hopes to keep the group creative and fun as well as to provide people with resources.

“I would personally like to see events like mental health movie nights, art and photography exhibits, and poetry and prose readings that all help individuals who are mentally ill express the nature of their struggles while also allowing non-mentally ill individuals to empathize with those who have mental health issues,” said Smith.

She continued, “Guilford Outreach seeks to connect students with valuable mental health resources both on and off-campus so that the quality of their lives or the lives the people they care about who have mental health issues can be improved.

“While we have great resources on campus now, their presence needs to be made more evident to the student body and, in some areas, expanded. Guilford Outreach seeks to promote that.”

The group meetings are planned to be on Fridays at 1:00 p.m. in the Bonner House Sunroom. All are welcome.

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