Eastern Michigan University’s Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. chapter hosted “Peace of Mind”, a lecture about mental health on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Student Center.
Jillian Carey, Ph.D, psychologist at EMU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) lectured on mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide and prevention to the 70 attendees. A question and answer session immediately followed. Carey said that college students especially should learn more information about mental health.
“Mental health issues can negatively affect students academically, not everyone has mental health problems but everyone has mental health. Learning how to care for it is a lifelong process,” she said.
Carey highlighted the common emotional issues in college and discussed prevention methods. She said that the most common emotional issues are depression, grief, stress and anxiety. She also gave statistics for EMU’s student body. At EMU, 4.8 percent of students had feelings of hopelessness, about 88.4 percent felt overwhelmed and 11 percent of students considered suicide.
Symptoms of depression include feeling down, losing interest, problems with appetite and feelings of worthlessness. She discussed the appropriate times to get help. Students should get help if they start to feel sad for longer than two weeks.
Carey also provided tips on how to deal with anxiety. Getting enough sleep, a good support system and eating a healthy diet can all help with feelings of anxiety. When diagnosing anxiety, she specifically looks for persistent worry and tension, difficulties with concentration and sleep, and discomfort in social situations. If these symptoms are interfering with daily life, class performance and relationships treatment should be sought.
Stigmas were also addressed. A stigma is when a person won’t discuss their struggle with a disorder out of fear of being stereotyped or judged. Carey encouraged students that they are not alone in their struggle. Most people will experience a mental health concern at some time in their life.
Carey stressed how important it is to get support and encouraged students who are dealing with mental health issues to utilize campus resources. Feeling Better 101 is a free three-part workshop on mental illness at CAPS. The workshop teaches students how to identify triggers, how to manage anxiety and how to regulate sleep.
Carey touched on eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. She said that men can also have them and binge eating is most common in men than any eating disorder. They eat large amounts of food and feel out of control. In both cases, people exercise to work off the weight but exercise more than what they should be. She said if a person feels that they have to compulsively exercise in order to make their body look a certain way then that is a concern. It’s one of the few disorders that can cause death because of very low weight.
Students were encouraged not to engage in problematic substance use. Binge drinking and binging any kind of substance, blacking out in which your brain loses its ability to form short term memories and store them long term, passing out, and drunk driving are all problematic.
She ended the program with information on helping others who might be suicidal. She said that approaching them in calm and gentle ways is best.
“Asking someone if they are suicidal instead of asking in a harsh way to make them feel ashamed will lower anxiety and lessens the chance that they will take their own life,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to ask; ask an open ended question. You should never keep it a secret from them, get help right away!”
Bryan Huffman, junior majoring in simulation, animation and gaming, found the information about the different resources on campus to be very helpful. He said therapy helped him with his own mental health issues.
“The amount of resources on campus are really great. I’ve been through therapy for stress and depression and I’m happy to hear about them. People are going through things and you wouldn’t expect that they are,” he said. “I found out that a friend and I were both going through the same issues and didn’t know what would happen next. You might realize that what you think is normal is actually something you might want to receive help for.”