Jenna Peterson ® News Editor |
Photo by Maxwell Mayleben ® Editor in Chief |
For decades, September has been known as national suicide prevention awareness month.
This campaign was created to educate not only health professionals but people in general about suicide, including recognizing warning signs and suicide prevention.
MNSU has numerous programs and organizations to help students and reassure them they are not alone.
According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. With such a high number of veteran students on campus, it’s important to help them as well.
Tim Adams, the Military and Veteran Student Success Coordinator at the Veterans Resource Center on campus, helps veteran students in a variety of ways. He not only helps academically, but also in a physical and mental sense throughout the student’s entire college career. This helps Adams feel connected to the students and reassures they truly have someone who cares about them.
“I want each student to know that I’m not here just to help tutor you in class,” Adams said, “but I’m also there for any situation that might come up, such as your car breaking down.”
The center’s goal as a veterans’ resource is to reduce the amount of depression and anxiety situations that untreated mental health problems will lead to. Everyone in the program keeps an eye on the other to make sure nobody slips through the cracks. In order for everyone to bond and create those strong friendships, the center will put on events and do activities for all of them to participate in.
For their fall event, there is typically a Veteran’s Day lunch where people throughout the campus and community are invited.
Speaker Michael McNamara, a military veteran himself, has made an appearance the past few years to share his story and reassure there is help. Due to COVID, those events will not be taking place this year.
Despite these cancellations, the students and staff in this program still meet together in a safe manner to ensure everyone is doing well.
For other students, MNSU’s counseling center is available and accessible. Psychologist Tom Allen discussed what services the center holds for students and how they can access them. During this pandemic, he noted that more and more students are coming in for counseling.
Getting connected with the center is fairly easy. All you have to do is call the center to set up a consultation appointment — which can be as soon as the same day — and fill out some basic paperwork. From there, the staff will help determine what direction you head into, whether it be individual or group therapy.
To keep everyone safe, appointments have been transitioned to Zoom. While talking about this change, Allen said, “The care is the same as if it would be in person. Our staff is eager to help the students, no matter how the meeting takes place.” He also talked about how the pros outweigh the cons, due to the increased access.
Allen said he’s concerned about mental health in general with students taking classes during a pandemic.
“Loneliness is a mental health issue and everyone is experiencing this,” he said. “It’s a difficult time and it’s normal to get help.”
To reach out and inform students about the counseling center, Allen and other staff members are talking to Residential Life about having discussions with students living in the dorms. It’s important to reach out to the freshmen as soon as possible so they know the support system they have on campus.
Allen said that, unfortunately, not many people know about the counseling center or where it is when they first arrive. Allen is also sending posts through MavLife, the campus’s mobile app. This resource is great for any and all students, where they can learn about other resources on campus.
To raise awareness during September, Mankato will be hosting an Out of the Darkness Walk 10 a.m. Sept. 12. This event will promote the discussion of suicide prevention, educate people on the topic, support those who have lost loved ones and those who have struggled with the experience.
Registration is recommended at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.
Another point Allen wanted to push forward was that everybody is struggling in some way or another. He explained how nobody is expected to be thriving right now, which is something that everybody can be reminded of.
If you are in need, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255.