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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Maintaining #MentalHealthAwareness Advised

  • Madison Barnhill
mental health awareness
Marina “Tiger” Hobday stands on ECU’s mall wearing an “I exist” T-shirt. Paris Silver

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

With the start of the new semester comes added stresses and weights that may keep students from feeling like themselves, but it is advised to remember you aren’t alone and help is there if wanted.

Licensed psychologist at the ECU Center Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), Valerie Kisler-van Reede, said #suicide is in the top ten for leading causes of death in the United States. According to Reede, warning signs include: talking about #suicide, #anxiety or #depression, isolation, change in behavior, increased use of substances and feeling hopeless about the future.

“There is no specific formula for how to identify someone who might be at risk for #suicide,” Reede said. “If you are concerned, express your concern to the person or to someone who is able to intervene and access help.”

If a student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is important that they seek help, Kisler-van Reede said. If the student is in immediate danger, they should call 911, visit their local hospital emergency room or call the #nationalsuicidepreventionhotline that can be accessed at any time at 1-800-273-8255, according to Reede.

She said while school is in session, students can visit the CCSD to be assessed or seek therapy. Crisis hours run Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. After-hours, students can call 252-328-6661 and select option two.

“Take the person seriously and offer support and willingness to get them connected with help,” Reede said.

Along with the counseling center there is also a program available through Campus Recreation and Wellness called the Bystander Intervention Program, wellness graduate assistant Rachel Maynard said.

This program spreads awareness, educates and provides help for healthy relationships. Additionally the program assists with alcohol abuse and #suicideprevention, according to Maynard.

Maynard said that the programs goal is to normalize #mentalhealth among college students and to make sure that students recognize taking care of your #mentalhealth is important. Signs to be aware of for #suicideprevention include direct and indirect verbal warnings such as “I’m tired of everything” or “I wish I was dead,” as well as a withdraw from social activities or feeling down a lot of the times, according to Maynard.

She said her biggest goal is all about social connections and working to create a safe space for students who feel they need to reach out for help.

“I tell people all the time that my biggest goal is to be a safe space for anyone and to be as welcoming and open as possible and if i feel like if someone ever needs to talk to me being the one to initiate that conversation and just say if you ever need to talk we can grab a coffee or something,” Maynard said.

This past semester the counseling center reached capacity and had to send students to other clinics some being off campus. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy said that this spring semester the counseling center will be open again for appointments, but if there are no open appointment times available students can be redirected to another clinic to seek help.

Hardy said that even if you’re going through a hard time there will always be help and telling yourself that making the move to get help is a sign of strength. She said that the biggest transition might be the rules coming back or leaving home after getting comfortable.

“I would encourage students to figure out what works for you and there is going to be trial and error in that but find what works for you and perfect that until you’re comfortable with it and around this time stay motivated,” Hardy said.

Student safety and success is a top priority at ECU and students are encouraged to seek out the help they may need and utilize campus resources. Whether it’s talking to a counselor, a friend or even faculty member, Hardy said she is constantly amazed at how the faculty and staff work with students because it’s a two-way relationship.

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