This Does Not Define Us: Utah student association video aims at improving mental health

Over the years, studies have given evidence of poor mental health conditions at colleges and universities. In fact, the Utah State University Student Association (USUSA) declared a mental health crisis at the universities last year. A year since the declaration, student leaders and administrators continue to make efforts to improve the state of mental health affairs on campus.

As part of these efforts, the USUSA has created a video titled “This Does Not Define Us,” which encourages students to reach out to family, friends and roommates when they feel alone. The idea of the video is to spread the message that nobody is ever alone, there is always somebody or the other to seek help from. “Friends, parents and best mates are here for you, ready to listen, wanting to help,” says the video.

The team comprising USUSA presidents from across the state created the video based on the realization that improving mental health requires a multipronged approach and needs support from family and friends in the form of understanding, love and acceptance. Notably, the initiative behind the video is for it to contribute as a positive add on to professional help, and not to be considered as a replacement.

The initiative is part of the USUSA’s 2016-17 mental health goals that include declaration of a statewide mental health crisis, getting funds for additional therapists at Counseling and Psychology Services, and ending the stigma behind mental illness. Besides, they also aim to educate the community on mental health issues as it can occur at any point of time, before or after the university. So far, they have been successful in expanding their efforts to the community and to the other Utah universities.

Mental health in universities

Studies have recorded a rise in the number of university students who are struggling with some mental disorder. Among all, depression and anxiety disorders were found to be the most prevalent mental health conditions. Apart from factors such as genetic predisposition, traumatic experience or environmental stressors, triggers like peer pressure, cutthroat competition and change in life schedule play a significant role in causing mental health problems in the students.

Sadly, while there are many students who are unaware of the underlying mental disorder present in them, there are many who shy away from seeking help owing to the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. Often, these students fear a dent in their social image. As a result, they prefer to remain silent, which leads to an aggravation of the condition and impacts their academic performance. All these together trigger suicidal thoughts and tendencies in them.

Road to recovery

Entering a university brings drastic changes in the life of a student, such as separation from home and family, the task of making new friends, adjusting to new and unfamiliar situations and living conditions, etc. All these factors can cause overwhelming and stressful circumstances, which is normal. However, if the stress goes overboard and begins to degrade the quality of life and disrupts regular routine, the stress is considered as unhealthy and unproductive. Therefore, awareness about the signs, causes and ways to manage the stress can help students maintain a good mental health during their struggle.

In the wake of rising incidence of mental health conditions among students, many universities and colleges incorporate mental health programs. These programs offer medical help, professional counselling and recommendation for thorough treatment. However, the work is to encourage the students to walk up to these programs and seek help without fearing the judgement and notions of others.

If you or your loved one is experiencing depression like symptoms, you can seek help from Depression Treatment Helpline to enquire about various treatment centers for depression in your vicinity. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our expert to know about the depression help centers near you.