‘Help us help you:’ mental health at Parkland
Mental health is a serious issue that everyone should pay attention to, especially college students. Students entering college face the initial transition phase, where they begin to try to reconcile their newfound independence, adulthood, and decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
“Students have so much pressure placed on them by society and friends and family; this pressure to know what they want to do ‘for the rest of their life’” said Katie Schacht, a counselor at Parkland.
The pressure on a student during these times affects them deeply, as time management, procrastination and stress can pile up and push the student into feelings of hopelessness and despair. It is a common issue that is seen by counselors at Parkland.
“That stress can lead students to start checking out or can trigger preexisting symptoms of anxiety or depression or just make them start feeling that school is not for them,” Schacht said.
Students may not necessarily recognize these symptoms as issues with mental health and may consider them to be just a trying time in their lives. It is important to note however that it could be something more intense.
Symptoms of depression include prolonged sadness, significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, irritability, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in daily actives, social withdrawal, unexplained aches and pains, and recurring thoughts of suicide.
These feelings are not limited to incoming students. Students at all stages in their education struggle to understand what the future may hold for them. Once they have acclimated to the college environment they must face their futures and answer questions like: ‘Do I enter the work force?,’ ‘Do I transfer?,’ and ‘Do I take some time off?”
Schacht suggests students start planning for graduation now. Student can get experiences through internships to make connections, network with faculty who are interested in their field of study, get transfer information from Parkland and the colleges or universities they are interested in transferring to, and talk to their Parkland advisor.
“Start getting excited about the next move in your life and taking ownership for making that transition happen,” Schacht said.
Without seeking help or asking questions it may be difficult to know which step to take. Unfortunately a stigma around seeking help still exists, especially for mental health issues. There is no weakness in seeking help, however, especially when it is from professionals who are there to help.
“None of us in those offices and positions would have jobs if we did not have students here coming to classes, paying their tuition, keeping this institution alive. Use us, please. Let us be of service to you,” Schacht said.
Now during midterms is when students feel the pressure as everything piles. As mentioned earlier this can trigger unwanted feelings.
“If you are struggling with test anxiety, anxiety, depression, feelings of being lost, confused or in pain—we are here to help,” Schacht said. “Your professors are here to help, counseling services, career services, center for academic success, the office of Disability services, your professor’s office hours—they all exist for you, the student.”
If you were unable to check out the National Depression Screening day at Parkland on Oct. 18, a confidential screening it is available upon request with Parkland’s counseling services in room U267.
“I cannot stress enough that we are here to assist….‘Help us help you.’ It is our job and we are very passionate about it” Schacht said.