Leave bad feelings in the cold this winter

Mental health can be a hot topic for college students during the cold winter months. The sun sets too early, and the darkness shrouding the campus spells out seasonal depression for many, and that’s not including lack of sleep and an overabundance of coursework.

Luckily for them, there are ways on campus for them to help address this. 

MSU Psychologist Kimberly Sommers thinks keeping up with mental and physical health is essential for college students. 

“Staying healthy and taking care of your mental and physical health throughout the school year is directly related to academic achievement. When someone is out of balance with their sleeping, eating, and movement, it leads to more stress and poorer performance,” said Sommers. “Therefore, we all need to ensure that we are eating not too much, not too little, sleeping, not too much, not too little, and moving, not too much, not too little.” 

Even though it may seem like an uphill battle at times to stay healthy mentally, there are easy ways to keep it from declining. 

“It’s important to find balance and check in with yourself regularly that you are getting what you need in terms of sleeping, eating, movement, social time, study time, downtime, etc.,” said Sommers. “Setting up a schedule can be helpful, or even setting and sharing goals with a friend who can be part of your support system and an accountability partner when you need to get back on track.” 

There are ways on campus for students to get more information on their mental health. One is the Counseling Center located in the Centennial Student Union, room 285. 

“The Counseling Center provides individual and group counseling, consultation, screening, outreach, workshops, and online resources to address various mental health concerns,” said Sommers. “We can meet with any student enrolled at MSU, Mankato and help connect them with the resources and supports they may need. To get started with the Counseling Center, we ask students to walk into our office during our screening times to meet that same day with one of our providers for a screening appointment.” 

The screening process may seem daunting to a newcomer, but it boils down to a short interview with a specialist, according to Sommers. 

“A screening appointment is about 20 minutes long and focuses on understanding what the student might need and how best we can help meet that need. Sometimes that means someone is referred for individual counseling or referred to a workshop,” said Sommers. “Sometimes, someone would best be helped by a referral to another office on campus or a community mental health resource.” 

The Counseling Center also has events throughout the year for students to go to and learn more about their health. 

“This spring semester, we will have outreach programming around different aspects of mental health. In January, we will have a week dedicated to providing students with information about depression and coping with the winter blues,” said Sommers. “In February, we will focus on relationships and providing information about healthy relationships and coping with difficulties within relationships.” 

For more information, go to the MSU website and click on the Counseling Center tab. 

Header Photo: The Counseling Center, located in the Centennial Student Union, is open five days a week, offering help and treatment for students burdened with the everyday stress of college life. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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