Students Join Health Discussion


by Peter Kaspari

The recent student suicides on college campuses across the nation are bringing a lot of attention to the mental health issues facing college students.

Last week, Simpson joined the discussion with the national Mental Health Awareness Week.

“I think of it as a time to destigmatize some of the issues that we don’t often talk about real openly in our society; issues like depression, suicide and anxiety,” Ellie Olson, director of counseling services, said. “I think often in our society there’s a lot of pressure to always be okay, always be in a good mood, and to be able to handle everything that comes our way on our own. And I think Mental Health Awareness Week is a time to remind people that none of us are always okay.”

Olson said that although last week had nothing directly to do with the recently publicized suicides, it’s always an issue that needs to be thought about.

“Those things that we hear about in the news are testaments to the fact that this obviously is very important to be paying attention to,” Olson said. “There are people out there who are really struggling and we don’t know who those people are, and we need to be conscientious about how we’re treating one another.”

One way Olson promoted Mental Health Awareness Week was by sending out a different email every day about a different mental health issue.

“They offer specific information on that particular topic as well as tips on how to deal with that particular issue, whether you struggle with that or if you know someone who struggles with that,” Olson said.

Other events that were held consisted of a forum event featuring the short film, “The Truth About Suicide,” and a depression-screening day. The depression-screening consisted of a short survey students could fill out.

While the events held during Mental Health Awareness Week are helpful, Olson would like to be able to do more. One way is by focusing more on the well being of students, and not just on issues such as depression and suicide.

Freshman Tyler Frankhouse said he feels more should be done as well.

“I think they need to do more physical things,” Frankhouse said. “I feel just promoting it in emails isn’t that effective.”

Rita Audlehelm, director of student health services, is one of the members of the Balance Life Group on campus.

“We work with some other staff on campus to look at areas we think most meet the needs that our students have,” Audlehelm said. “We did that National College Health Assessment last year, and that surely proved there are issues like stress and being overwhelmed.”

Audlehelm praised Simpson’s promotion of Mental Health Awareness Week.

“A lot of people know somebody who has issues, but they may be uncertain on how to handle it,” Audlehelm said. “I think it’s good for people to know that we all have issues in our (lives). We’re about supporting people in their lives when things are just too much.”