Recently a friend pointed me to an article by Gary Glass, director of counseling and career services at Oxford College, titled “Rethinking Campus Mental Health.”
Glass does a remarkable job exploring the importance of community in combating mental health issues on campus. Glass started as a university psychologist in the ‘90s. At that time it seemed there were more students than ever seeking out counseling services. From my observations (and Glass’s), this seems to be as much of a concern as it was decades ago. Many therapists at universities spend a great deal of time helping students with their fears and worries. These are often, unfortunately, all too typical for students. It’s important students feel they have a place to turn in times of need. Yet counselors have limited time and many students are dealing with serious mental health issues.
So, what if individuals and organizations at the university helped to pick up some of the slack in giving students a place to turn in time of need? Glass believes those beyond the counseling center could aid in combating stress and anxiety brought on by competition and perfectionism.
Through increased training across departments at our colleges and universities, or simply through a little moral courage, people on our campuses can have intricate conversations to improve students’ lives -- emotionally, interpersonally and spiritually. It’s likely that, in organic ways, such conversations would lead to greater awareness about how some prevailing mind-sets may link to the stress and distress of our students.
Perhaps, Glass argues, we can find support systems through staff in residence life, religious life, and student affairs. These programs can build a supportive community for students. Ideally, it will make them feel comfortable approaching others. In doing so they might tackle their worry and loneliness.
This article gave me a great deal to contemplate, but I can’t help but think Glass is right. Community is a welcome means by which to handle loneliness. It can also be a frontline defense to address anxiety that all too often brought about by college.
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This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.