Leadership Affirms Action on Mental Health
By Harris Pastides, Taylor Wright, Jennifer Mandelbaum
It takes little more than a Google search to reveal the depth and severity of the current mental health crisis among young adults in our nation. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the mental health rate of teenagers and young adults has rapidly declined. In this study cited by Time Magazine, depression rates among children from ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60 percent, and 46 percent in ages 18 to 21, “while more than one in eight Americans ages 12 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode.”
Our Carolina community is no stranger to this crisis. This week we mourn the death of one of our students, and our heartfelt condolences are extended to family and friends. Please keep them in your thoughts in the following days.
As we come together as a Carolina family to process this loss, we ask you to find 10 minutes today to take four very important, specific actions:
- Students, program our Counseling Center number into your phone: 803-777-5223. Free services are available 24 hours a day. Faculty and staff, program the Employee Assistance Program into your phone: 800-633-3353. Free services are available 24 hours a day.
- Everyone, program the National Suicide Prevention Hotline into your phone: 800-273-8255. That way it will be at your fingertips if you or a friend ever need it.
- Students, visit our mental health resources page to familiarize yourself with the free services available to students. Faculty and staff, visit the Employee Assistance Program for more information about free services available to you.
- Hold each other accountable. Ask your friends if they’ve taken these proactive steps and encourage them to do so.
Mental health is our highest priority, and we will continue to direct resources toward mental health support and care. As public health practitioners positioned in important leadership positions, such as University President, Student Government (SG) President and Graduate Student Association (GSA) President, we’re seeking to foster an important dialogue to improve access to life-saving mental health resources for students and South Carolinians, as well as spread awareness of the different forms of mental health issues and how they impact individuals. If you or someone you know is struggling, we urge you to reach out to one of our trained, caring professionals or to use one of our other in-person or online mental health services.
We also encourage you to consider participating in our Gatekeeper Training. This invaluable training will teach you warning signs, how to respond and further educates you about the resources available on our campus. There are two training sessions left this semester. This could be the best two hours you spend to improve your own well-being or better support your friends.
In addition, we’ve increased the number of mental health initiatives on campus over the last year in order to begin the hard task of addressing support provided for students with a range of mental health needs. In particular, our SG and GSA have created a dialogue destigmatizing mental health issues, providing help for young adults. Moreover, Stigma Free USC Week provides a new focus on mental health outreach at the University. During this annual event, university students are introduced to resources provided by Student Health Services, such as a 24-hour crisis line, the Hear Me Out Podcast where students can share personal stories of conquering challenges, and a student therapy dog named Indy.
Whether through the SG’s implementation of Stigma Free USC, the GSA’s push for awareness of depression among graduate students, or a presidential EBlast encouraging optimism and healthy habits, our leadership team affirms our highest commitment to the mental health of all university students, faculty and staff. We care about you and are always here to help you.
Harris Pastides, Taylor Wright, and Jennifer Mandelbaum
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