Faculty offers mental health resources in light of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – The Oracle

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, members of the USF community showcased different mental health resources that students can refer to in times of crisis. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Movements to destigmatize mental illness in recent years have become a beacon of hope within the mental health profession, according to USF Counseling Center Director Scott Strader.

After the official adaptation of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in 2008, September has been a time to honor the memory of those who have committed suicide. However, the negative stigma surrounding suicide is something Strader said has long been a barrier for students in crisis despite progress.

“We’re seeing students a little more willing to move on, engage in counseling or engage in some of these other resources, which we really appreciate,” he said.

“But we certainly have to continue to understand that there is a lot of stigma attached to seeking mental health services, in general, but also just admitting that you have suicidal thoughts or symptoms of depression. It’s a very real challenge for students who are really looking for the help they need.

Being able to study trends in student mental health during the pandemic has provided an interesting perspective on how these barriers form, according to Strader. While mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, increased in expected ways, he said he and his colleagues were surprised to see a significant decrease in reports of suicidal ideation and acts of suicide.

The decrease was attributed to the increased availability of telehealth sessions and remote mental health services for people experiencing suicidal episodes, according to the Collegiate Mental Health Center. Although reported self-threat rates have steadily increased over the past eight years, the center added that self-health issues have decreased to 26.27% of student-reported areas over the past eight years. 2021-22 school year.

According to Strader, maintaining the downward trend in student suicide rates became a top priority for the Counseling Center when allocating its funding after the pandemic. In addition to the increased availability of in-person counseling sessions, the university has invested in a series of telehealth counseling services and online mental health platforms.

Having long been the leading resource for online peer-to-peer interaction, TogetherAll offers students a space to talk about their difficulties anonymously. Although students aren’t required to share after joining the platform, Strader said trained mental health professionals are readily available on the site if anyone prefers to speak privately.

To meet the increase in requests for mental health advice from students during the pandemic, the advice center has also started using the virtual health care service. TimelyCare. In addition to being assigned a licensed mental health service provider, students are not required to provide proof of insurance to use the service.

Those looking for a more independent form of treatment can consult TAO, according to Strader. Although the website does not offer direct counseling sessions, students have the opportunity to explore different educational modules on mental illness as well as mindfulness libraries.

Center for Student Wellbeing director Jennifer Diprete said that in addition to trends in mental illness resulting from the pandemic, she has noticed students struggling to acclimate to college life. when they returned to campus. To help students with their mental health through the transition, she said the Center for Student Wellness has tried to take a holistic, multifaceted approach to treatment.

“I don’t mean that from a leadership perspective, but something I’ve noticed is that students come back and want to pick up the pace, want to reacclimate to typical college and everyday life and struggle in power to do so,” she said.

“The way I look at these struggles is that students are looking to reacclimate and we are here to help them reacclimate and remind them of the resources, strategies and skills that we can provide to them in order to prevent some of the struggles and challenges they may face.

Addressing the stigma surrounding suicide must begin not just by assessing public pressures, but also how negative stereotypes contribute to one’s own understanding of suicide, according to Diprete. By promoting open and honest communication about mental health, she said she hopes the conversation around resources can normalize.

Coordinating on-campus events for mental health awareness, particularly suicide awareness over the past week, has been illuminating work, according to the Center for Wellbeing’s health promotion specialist. -being students, Kameron Talley. Since the beginning of September, she said she has been trying to share awareness messages on the Center’s social media as well as handing out suicide prevention flyers to visitors.

Featured on the flyer are a series of local crisis hotlines, including the USF Counseling Center, Tampa Crisis Center, Student Outreach and Support Center, and the Police Department of the USF. Off campus, Talley also included two federal crisis hotlines, or the Suicide and Crisis Hotline (988) and the Crisis Text Line (741741).

The importance of suicide awareness is something that should be recognized well beyond September, according to Diprete. While having an official Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a positive step forward in mental health advocacy, she said suicide prevention should be understood as an instrumental service throughout the year.

“We want people to know that the [we] focus on mental health and suicide prevention not only during the month of September, but whenever we look at student wellness and well-being. It’s something that can’t be broken into segments,” she said.

“Supporting a student’s mental health is something we advocate for and take care of throughout the year, because life doesn’t live in a vacuum one month of the year. It is important to address mental health throughout a student’s lifecycle while in college.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.