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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

April is Counseling Awareness Month

Life is full of stressors. Being a college student often means the stress of school, finances, family, relationships and all kinds of stuff. As April rolls on, with finals rapidly approaching in a little over a month, it is important that we don’t put our mental health and wellbeing on the back burner. It’s important if you are feeling stressed, depressed or just plain confused, to talk to someone about it, preferably a professional mental health counselor or your family doctor. Fear not the stigma around seeing a therapist-it may serve to improve (and even perhaps save) your sanity, relationships with other people and your life.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 1 in 4 adults over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder at some time during the year, with about 1 in 17 suffering from a debilitating mental illness. Additionally, data from the American Psychiatric Association show that over 50% of all college students report severe depression that affects their functioning. Combine this with the stress of school, work, money and family obligations, and it is a recipe for disaster. Other issues college students are dealing with include anxiety, eating disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, anger issues and relationship issues-all of which, left untreated, could have severely harmful effects.

April is Counseling Awareness Month-a month where mental health professionals and the psychological community try to destigmatize getting help and encourage students to seek counseling for their issues. Director of the Counseling Center here at UMB, Dr. Edna Pressler encourages students to make the most of the services offered on campus. “Getting an undergraduate or graduate education is both exciting and challenging,” Dr. Pressler acknowledges. “The University Health Services Counseling Center is here to help students find the support they need to survive and thrive during their time at UMass Boston and beyond.”

Taking advantage of the services offered through UHS is easy. The Counseling Center offers all students, regardless of insurance, crisis intervention, telephone consultations with senior staff members and assistance with accessing off-campus care. “Students who have health insurance through the school,” Pressler explains, “can also receive brief, focused therapy.” The Counseling Center also offers referrals as necessary to outside practitioners in the event that a student doesn’t have school insurance or wants a more focused or specialized provider.

Pressler says that students should not let the stigma of receiving counseling stop them from achieving a more whole self: “Aside from students not knowing what services are available on campus, incorrect information-that you are ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’ if you get help or that your teachers and parents can access your UHS health records-is a huge deterrent for students in need of counseling.” Pressler does note that counseling, while beneficial due to the knowledge provided by the practitioner, is not the only way for students to deal with problems they are experiencing. “Students may find guidance from other sources, such as religious or spiritual practices, music, volunteer work, family, journaling-the point is to deal with the issues that are causing you distress in a more positive way,” she says.

If you are experiencing distress, or you feel your life is unmanageable, call the UHS Counseling Center at 617-287-5690 and set up a consultation to arrange future care. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors or feel in danger of hurting yourself or others, immediately see someone in the Counseling Center (when on campus) or go to your nearest emergency room (off campus). Being mentally healthy is just as important as being physically active and maintaining a balanced diet. No issue is too small to deal with-if it causes you distress, it is important to address. “Having a clear mental outlook and developing skills that foster a healthy mind…can be even more powerful predictors of eventual success than grades or test scores,” Dr. Pressler emphasizes.

Take care of yourself by beginning with your mental health and you will be forever grateful. The services are offered on campus to students, so take advantage of them. You can visit the UHS Counseling Center’s website (http://www.healthservices.umb.edu/counselingctr.shtml) for more information on receiving care.

Pressler concluded: “Enrollment in UMass Boston is not only an opportunity to learn academic subjects; it is also a time and place for students to learn about who they are as people and how to make the most of their potential.”

About the Contributor
Amy Julian served as the arts editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2008-2009;