Op-ed Showcase

Mental health at WCU: How we can improve

Photo: Alysha Rosly via Unsplash

Sometimes, college students need a day. A day where they can sleep in, relax, take care of themselves and truly refuel their mental well being. The answer is simple: West Chester University should implement an excused mental health day in each professor’s syllabus. Therefore, students can take a day off and not feel guilty for putting their mental health first. This is one of the best ways to help students struggling with their minds. It could be a day that they realize the impact of not taking care of themselves, the day they reach out for help or just a day to unwind and reset.

As college students, the hectic weeks can pile up each semester: this makes it hard to prioritize their mental health. WCU continuously emails the student body with resourceful events like workshops, seminars and other activities in the Sykes Student Union. They ask for students to participate, but realistically, someone with a mental illness feels overwhelmed by the other tasks they have to do on top of that. An article on National Health Institution states, 38.4% of adults experienced mental health issues from ages 18 to 25. Currently there are 17,005 students that attend this university. Therefore, around 6,460 students potentially experience mental health issues between those ages on WCU’s campus.

The good news is that mental health awareness is spreading throughout the campus. NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Health, is a new club coming to West Chester’s campus advocating for the mental health of its student body. Hannah Crespy, the incoming president, is excited for this proposal and the push on advocating for students suffering. “West Chester University is excited to hopefully get approval from the SGA for the start of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) club on West Chester’s Campus. NAMI will be a club that has a goal of raising awareness about mental health and the people who personally struggle with it or who have family or friends who are affected by it. We also want to educate our potential members and the community about the different struggles and stigma that is associated with mental health in a fun and interactive way. Our potential NAMI club will welcome new members, and if there are any questions please email us at namiwcupa@gmail.com!”

An article in the New York Times explains that two states recently passed a law where students can take mental health days off from school. This issue is not something to take lightly on college campuses. Especially with all the attempted suicides, mass shootings and other horrific incidents stressed out college students are struggling with.

An abundance of information and events regarding mental health and other concerns can be found on wcupa.edu. They have plenty of information available to students on identifying their mental health, counselors that are available and other monthly events. Let’s be completely realistic here, if someone is struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts they are highly unlikely to dig through all that cluttered information. Within all that information, there are specifically a couple events that stick out to me as being useful with time management for students. WCU tries to recruit students to participate in activities like “Take A Mental Health Day” and “Checkup From The Neck Up.” The Counseling Center and the Office of Wellness Promotion hosted a “Check-Up from the Neck Up’ event in Sykes Ballrooms from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 18, where students could opt for a mental health screening. There will be information tables and giveaways as well as WCU’s therapy dogs, Darla and Tucker. The information on “Take A Mental Health Day” 2019 was filled with workshops, speakers and discussion groups students and faculty were invited to attend. These events, held on a Tuesday, Oct. 8 from 3:30 pm to 8:00 p.m., truly did not fit within students’ busy school schedules. In addition, dog therapy is another activity WCU really tries to pull students who are struggling with a mental illness into. This could be another social activity for students to participate in; however, how are they going to get there with their busy schedule? Nevertheless, go to the Sykes Student Union to pet a dog and hope their negative thoughts and busy schedule get miraculously better.

The WCU President Fiorentino should conduct a meeting implementing a mental health day into each professor’s syllabus. The student should e–mail the professor letting them know of the excused day off. The professor can then follow up with direct mental health resources and other contacts the student can have direct access to. Students need a day to relax, rest and reset their minds for the wellbeing to accomplish what they came to do at this school. That is, get a college degree from a great university and not damage their mental health in the process.

Olivia Chieffallo is a third-year student majoring in communications major with minors in media & culture and international business. OC884293@wcupa.edu

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