Mental health still a major issue

At any given time, a Guilford student can be overheard detailing their stress to a friend. They’ll blame their course load, social lives, work, extracurricular activities or uncertainty about the future.

But you’ll rarely hear them talk about the underlying problem — mental health.

As someone who has been struggling with mental health for several years, I know firsthand that it is not something that we talk about. And that needs to change.

College life normalizes stress and struggling while not giving students the support they need to stay afloat.

The expectations of students these days are almost impossible to meet. Most students take at least four classes and are involved in clubs, volunteering, work and sports. While juggling their many commitments, students also anticipate the strains of student loans and high unemployment once they graduate.

All this worrying leaves students with little downtime to take care of ourselves. Many of us are guilty of working too hard to complete everything while not taking care of our mental health.

Guilford offers the opportunity for an accessible education, and the high acceptance rate and diverse student body speaks to this commitment. However, the school should not expect students to handle everything college throws at us, from high academic expectations to frequent extracurricular activities, without some degree of support.

The school needs to be there for students from the start, or too many students will drop out before graduating.

For one, students often fear that professors will not understand mental health problems. Guilford needs to educate its professors about the obstacles that students face so they can be helpful and not intimidating to approach.

Lack of support is not the only failing. The stigma surrounding mental health, especially for people of color, LGBTQA people and men, makes it difficult for students to speak up. For instance, men face pressure to be masculine and ignore mental or emotional struggles.

With these expectations, it becomes incredibly hard to ask for help.

If we as a college talked more openly about mental health and made support easily accessible, we could ease this burden.

During conversations addressing racism and other prejudices at Guilford, we need to focus on improving mental health resources.

Our predominately white faculty and staff causes black and brown students not to feel comfortable approaching authority figures when they are in need of advice or aid.

The difference in experiences and backgrounds can make it hard for students of color to relate to those they want to ask for help. The same applies for any marginalized students.

We need to open up this conversation to the whole community, because everyone can suffer from mental illness. If incidents of students struggling are constantly swept under the rug, students may feel like they are alone in what they feel.

Guilford needs to talk about how mental health affects all people. By providing a variety of resources, the college can try to help the students who have the hardest time getting help.

The first step towards a more mental health-friendly campus is an open discussion between administrators, professors, students and professionals aimed toward ensuring a diversity of resources for its diverse student body.

While the campus as a whole has made some steps in the right direction, we can always do more. We need both big and small changes.

For now, when facing the sometimes overwhelming pressure of college, make sure to take steps to take care of yourself — and encourage your friends to do the same. If you or anyone you know is struggling, please reach out to the Counseling Center.

When college stress causes our mental health to suffer, we must speak up. And everyone deserves to be heard.