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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #MentalHealth Remains Prominent Issue As #Pandemic Persists

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Cole Bursch, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionHelpline at 800-273-8255.

Quarantine has been a time fraught with #isolation, increased #anxieties and an abyss of unknowns for some #students at DePaul struggling with #mentalillness.

Being a full-time college #student is already a stressful endeavor, and according to a Havard Medical School research paper published in 2018 focusing on college #stress and its relation to #suicide, 20 percent of all the #students surveyed had thought about #suicide. The Havard survey gathered #students from 100 different universities across the nation to talk about mental health, and there was also evidence that, “while #racial or ethnic and sexual or #gender #minorities are especially vulnerable, high rates for stress events, #mentalhealth diagnoses and the risk of #suicide or suicidal thoughts were reported among all #students surveyed.” 

#SeptemberisNationalSuicidePreventionMonth, and according to the #NationalInsituteofMentalHealth, in 2018 there were around 6,211 #suicide deaths among student-aged individuals 15-24 in the #UnitedStates, making #suicide the second leading cause of death overall for #students. 

Roberta Garner, a DePaul sociology professor, suggested that the economic turmoil of this year can be directly related to #mentalhealth decline for #students both in the past and also the present. 

“Both the #GreatDepression that started in 1929 and the #GreatRecession (2008-2009) saw definite increases in #suicide rates,” Garner said. “During the #GreatRecession, poverty and foreclosures were related to higher rates of #suicide.” 

With the connections between #suicide and #student #stress, both academically and economically, many #students around the country are contending with increasingly heavy and complex #mental burdens related to the chaos and #Covid-19 shutdowns. For Claire Malon, a DePaul #student who is graduating this year, the idea of entering a shrinking job market does not leave much hope for the future.

“I think generally the thought of leaving college and entering the workforce is an incredibly stressful thing because of all of the unknowns and uncertainty that comes with it,” Malon said. “When you take that and compound it by the unknown of #Covid and its impact on the economy and employment, that’s going to be a great source of #anxiety.”

Amid the ongoing #pandemic and political tensions that are coinciding with heavy course loads for #students like Malon, there is a tangible sense of control that is being taken away from #students, according to Garner. 

“Emile Durkheim’s ‘#Suicide,’ published in 1898, discovered that the two big risk factors for high rates of #suicide in modern societies were #isolation and disorder, which he called anomie, the Greek word for the disorder,” Garner said. “Protective factors were social cohesion (solidarity) and a sense of order that is fair and not excessively restrictive. He found #suicide rates tended to be high where social solidarity was weak and when there is a situation of disorder, chaos, and confusion in society. So those findings can be applied in our current crisis and political climate.”


#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

DePaul #students may be living in the #UnitedStates at its most nationally incohesive moment. By looking at Durkheim’s study through the lens of current social and political turmoil, the disorder and #isolation experienced in quarantine can also be linked to declines in #mentalhealth for #students. In light of these increased obstacles, Malon wonders what the university is doing for the #students who need support in their fight with #mentalillness.

 “I think the most important thing for the university to understand is the academic and emotional burden on #students right now and just try to be cognizant of that,” Malon said. “Making final exams optional, extending pass/fail deadlines and providing #students with exemptions from certain projects were all things that I think the university did well at the end of last quarter. There is no reason why these things shouldn’t carry over to this quarter. Any means by which the administration can help #students during this time academically, financially or mentally should be taken without hesitation.”

According to the Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) at DePaul’s website, if you or someone you know needs emergency support, call 911 or the #SuicideHotline at (800-273-8255). As for the other support systems at DePaul besides University Counseling Services, the university also has multiple support groups in place as well. 

“#Students can attend training like #MentalHealth First Aid or Recovery Ally Training to learn more about #mentalhealthadvocacy,” according to Katie Bellamy, the Substance Misuse Prevention Specialist at HPW. “We also offer workshops like Choices (substance use harm reduction) and Wellness Wednesdays (on Facebook Live with our peer health educators) to help folks gain support. We host weekly Collegiate Recovery Community meetings, which are open to any #student in any type of recovery (substance use, eating concerns, #mentalhealth, etc).” 

As September comes to a close, the various factors of #stress on #student #mental-health throughout our society are being accentuated due to the current social disarray. According to the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline though, one immediate step to supporting #students battling suicidal thoughts or #mentalillness is simply listening to someone’s struggles without judgment.

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