For students struggling with mental health, DePaul’s counseling services are here to help

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There is a plethora of mental health illnesses that affect millions of people every day. The conditions that they can put you under are no joke, causing you to wonder why they aren’t taken more seriously. Maybe it is a lack of understanding or fear, but it has come a long way nonetheless.

450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness, but two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 

Increasing numbers of college students are reporting that mental health issues are affecting their academic progress, according to United Educators. In a national study done by United Educators in 2017, approximately 24 percent of students cited anxiety and 16 percent cited depression as affecting their academic work. A shocking statistic states that death by suicide is the second leading cause of fatalities in youth ages 15-24.

Many students work, play sports, intern and go to school. Some even do all of those things at one time. Trying to work toward a college degree can deteriorate your mental health if students are feeling overworked and not having a life outside of academic work and jobs. 

“I definitely think that there are times when school makes my mental health worse,” said Brittany Foltice, a sophomore at DePaul. “There is such a big emphasis on ‘hustle culture’ and always trying to be the best and accomplish as many things as humanly possible. This sometimes can make you feel that no matter what, you aren’t doing enough, and you aren’t good enough to become successful.”

Seeking help for mental health issues can be costly, timely and sometimes downright impossible for some college students to do. In such a stressful time, talking through depression or anxiety can be helpful. Talking with a therapist or counselor can help you deal with thoughts, behaviors, symptoms, stresses, goals and past experiences, according to Mental Health America. 

Luckily, college campuses offer counseling and therapy to students. The counseling services at DePaul partner up with many other campus groups in order to bring more resources to students in regard to mental health services. University Counseling Services (UCS) partners up with groups such as Mission Ministry and Academic Enrichment to help bring knowledge to students about the services offered.

“Every year, again the number of students seeking services has gone up,” said Bill Johnson, a staff psychologist on campus. “Because the kind of negative stereotypes are reducing and normalizing this idea. We’ve done a good job bringing awareness.” 

Even though students seeking help has gone up, according to Johnson, it brings into question the reason as to why. Yes, it is a good thing more students are going in, but it isn’t clear whether the rise in students seeking counseling services is directly correlated to a decrease in stigma or a real increase in how widespread mental health issues are. 

Johnson mentioned the many types of therapy sessions offered to students. One in particular that he has seen great success in is group therapy. 

“You learn that you are not alone and new and relating skills,” he said. “Group is better than any individual therapy.” 

Johnson added that it is often the best treatment for emotional stress and that there is a therapist in the room that’ll help guide the discussion.

“I’ve seen an increase in anticipation of group therapy,” he said. 

Johnson said the UCS also goes to classes to explain counseling services, ways to deal with stress and goes into detail about healthy eating, which can help with mental health as well as physical health. 

“DePaul’s therapy services have helped so much since I’ve started college,” Foltice said. “I moved here from Michigan, so when I started college I didn’t have any resources here in Chicago to help me out when things got tough to handle. I started going to the counseling center and they were such a big help with guiding me through what I was feeling and how to healthily express and deal with situations, feelings and thoughts.”

Of course, talking to someone can be tough, but it can help to come to grips with problems in life and also offers an emotional release, according to Mental Health America. That is a common problem among people who feel that staying strong is the best thing to do, when in reality, it is healthy to get them out and not have them build up. 

“I also never hesitate to contact my professors if times get tough and I need a little extra help with completing my coursework,” Foltice said. “So far in my experience, the professors here at DePaul are so understanding and are always willing to help.” 

Full-time and part-time DePaul students currently registered and enrolled in a degree program are eligible for counseling services. Besides individual and group therapy; psychiatric evaluation and medication management, crisis intervention and referrals to community providers and agencies are also services offered through UCS.