One in four college students struggles with a diagnosable mental illness, according to research done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet statistics from the same research show that 40 percent of students do not seek help for their mental health issues.
Because diagnosable mental illnesses remain a matter of national and private concern, mental health resources are an essential aspect of student services on college campuses. On AU’s campus, these resources come in the form of counseling services for healing, and the interest club To Write Love On Her Arms, for community support.
AU counseling services aims to provide a place for students to “pursue healing, growth, support, and wholeness within a Christian context while remaining respectful of the variety of backgrounds and paradigms of our students,” according to the counseling services subpage of the AU website.
Psychology professor Dr. Shelda Borders recommends that students seek help for mental illness via counseling services. “Counseling provides the opportunity for students to experience a supportive relationship with a professional who has specifically been trained to treat these issues,” Borders said. “Many research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of counseling.”
“I wouldn’t expect someone with diabetes to spontaneously recover without any intervention,” Borders said. “Likewise, it’s important to also seek treatment for mental health conditions. However, unfortunately, for some there is still stigma around the idea of getting help for a mental health concern.”
As Borders noted, the stigma surrounding mental illness contributes to the reluctance of students to seek help. The AU chapter of TWLOHA aims to combat this stigma.
Krista Baker, president of AU’s TWLOHA chapter, describes the club as “a community that supports honest conversation and safe spaces. We inform people about the truths of mental illness and fight against the stigmas surrounding it.”
Baker noted that the national organization of TWLOHA invests into counseling services throughout the United States. She emphasized that the officers of the club are not counselors themselves, however. “We do not act like counselors,” Baker said. “We point people to the counseling services that AU offers.”
In the past, TWLOHA has hosted events such as “Lovegroove,” a concert with several bands in attendance that took place around Valentine’s Day. The concert was meant to offer a fun activity for those who may have felt lonely or simply wanted to hang out while listening to music and enjoying Mocha Joe’s drinks.
The club is seeking to be more active on campus this year than in the past, as the leadership has been in place for a year now. Baker plans to have the club partner with other groups on campus in order to provide a positive and safe atmosphere. Those in the club welcome new members and will gladly answer any questions that students have about the club or its events.
“We want people to feel welcomed,” Baker said. “[Many] people struggling with mental illness already feel alone, and we don’t want that. We want everyone to feel that they are important, because we truly believe that they are. We want people to value their lives, [and we want] to show them that their story isn’t over and that it doesn’t have to be.”
If a student seeks out a supportive community such as TWLOHA, they may be more likely to seek help through counseling as well, which is why the organization recommends counseling to students within the club who struggle with mental health issues. Borders emphasized that the likelihood of successful healing is better with the help of counseling services.
“Typically, a person who seeks help through counseling will have better results than someone who avoids seeking help,” Borders said. “Oftentimes [things like] depression, anxiety, problematic interpersonal relationships, etcetera don’t just disappear on their own. Counseling provides a safe space for students to discuss issues which may be impacting their mood, relationships, school performance, and/or quality of life.”
Students may sign up for counseling by visiting Morrison House, the counseling services building. Contact information for individual counselors and the director of counseling services is available on the AU website.
TWLOHA will be active on campus, and are planning events to take place throughout the year. For more information about the AU chapter of the organization, contact Krista Baker via email at email@example.com.