MSU focuses on mental health, but is it enough?

As we enter week five of classes, students begin to understand the struggles and strains of college life. Balancing class schedules, homework and a social life is harder than most people think, and it can take a toll on someone’s well being.

To help students with mental health, Minnesota State University, Mankato offers a variety of resources. Some of these include the Counseling Center, MavsCARE Early Alert Referral System, and the Behavioral Consultation Team, who all work to help students through difficult times.

The Counseling Center provides both group and individual therapy for those who seek it out, but the process can be a little overwhelming. You first need to schedule a screening appointment with a counselor to determine what services would be best for you. 

Following this, you have to fill out screening paperwork that asks questions regarding a mental health assessment and reasons for seeking help with the center. After completing this, you are able to schedule your first appointment with a counselor.

MavCARE Early Alert Referral System was created to allow anyone who is concerned about an individual’s mental wellbeing or academic performance to report to the Office of New Student and Family Programs. 

Once the report is received, the program will figure out the best way to approach the situation and offer the most appropriate support. 

MNSU’s Behavioral Consultation Team takes faculty who are experienced and trained in identifying students who may be in emotional distress and putting together any informational and helpful resources that student could use.

We then need to ask: Do students know about and take advantage of these resources? 

As a student new to the college scene, there is a lot to learn about, and mental health resources may be lower on the list. Instead, they may be more concerned about finding where their class is at or what’s on the menu for dinner that night. 

For residence hall students, they have people surrounding them at all times to notice any changes in behavior and bring attention to this. There are Community Advisors, dorm roommates, and other people who live on the same floor who can notice these changes.

Students who live off-campus, however, may have a more difficult time noticing the change in their mental state and then doing something about it. There aren’t any forms of resources close to them, and they may seem isolated and alone.

While students are responsible for their own mental needs, the University should also extend a helping hand and advertise their resources with a louder voice. 

To get the word out about the services available, the University could send out emails in the beginning of each semester stating what resources are there for students. This reminder would help both new and returning students of the places on campus ready to help when needed. 

Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental health is dissolving. But it hasn’t disappeared completely. While it’s easier to get help today than it was years ago, many people still need a nudge to get the help they need. The university would do well to remember that. And students shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help when they need it.

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