While in college a variety of things are taught and discussed. One thing that’s commonly glanced over is the heavily neglected epidemic of college depression.
For many students it’s their first time being away from home and the strain of adjusting to a new environment can be heavy. Being away from friends and family, and adjusting to new people and places can often be a taxing situation. As college is a place where one is motivated and pushed to go to the next level many people feel pressured, so without the support of friends and family it can impact how one coops with situations.
Several factors can attribute towards depression. It can stem from romantic relationships, friendships, tensions, finances, conflicts and environmental influences. For some it can be biological. Those with certain genetic predispositions can trigger stress when exposed to different outside factors.
Other symptoms can be changes in behavior patterns, such as social withdraw, constant sadness, insomnia/increased sleep, lack or increased appetite, guilt, and shame.
“Unlike a broken bone, it’s something that a doctor can’t fix or put into a cast,” said Norfolk State University Psychology Professor Andrew Franklin. “It’s definitely chronic for some people, [it can be] brief for some, but for others it’s long-going.”
Franklin said another issue is the stigma that surrounds depression. As depression isn’t as socially accepted as a typical injury it can be difficult for people to accept mental ailments. This places pressure on those seeking help as they often wonder how society will view them.
YWCA volunteer and outreach coordinator Kathryn Cooke said college students often come to the YWCA for counseling. Many come seeking help for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.
“We have counselors for adults, children, and a bilingual counselor who is able to counsel in Spanish” said Cooke. “In addition to our regular services for anyone, we also have an MOU with Old Dominion University where ODU pays for its students to all receive free counseling from the YWCA.”
However, the YWCA’s Program Director of Counseling said that the best resource for a college student’s depression is the college itself. “I think it should come straight from the resources within the college.” she said.
Franklin said the counseling center on NSU’s campus is a great resource for those seeking help with depression.
“It’s all free of charge, so you can go in there and talk about test anxiety or you can talk about a relationship that came to an end, or a family member who lost their life,” Franklin said.
While the issue of mental heath may not be as socially accepted as other health issues, it’s not out of the norm to seek help. According to Franklin, even medical doctors and therapist seek other therapist at times of depression. It’s just as important to have a routinely mental health checkup as one would have a physical.
NSU’s Counseling Center is located in room 312 of the Student Services Center. Their phone number is (757) 823-8173.