Attempting to find out more about SVSU’s mental health services

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From my dorm room on the third floor of MJB House, I can see a lot of things. Lately, I have been seeing a large rock painted black with white lettering on it. I know what it says far too well.

“1,100 college students die by suicide each year. Let’s end the stigma.”

SVSU has done a lot to raise awareness of mental illness and break the stigmas associated with them. However, a few weeks ago, a professor raised a question about SVSU’s mental health services to me. Since this conversation, I have been prodding different organizations and offices on campus for information about the mental health services SVSU provides.

I began my research at the Student Life Center, knowing that members of Active Minds often wander around the area offering free hugs and candy. I learned that Active Minds has created a Crisis Response Plan that should have a lot of information about what SVSU is doing to help with mental crises on-campus and provide a plan for how to help a student experiencing a mental health emergency. Multiple individuals have told me that this report is currently under review by SVSU for approval.

As I kept researching, though, I found that Active Minds members were some of the only university officials and groups to actually respond to my inquiries and help me find the information I was seeking. In fact, of the eight SVSU officials and staffers I have contacted, only a few have contacted me back, and many of the individuals who did respond could not help me. Of those who contacted me back, only Eddie Jones, director of the Counseling Center, agreed to meet with me in-person.

While contacting SVSU staff and organizations, I have inquired about how much funding counseling receives, how many counselors they have (three, according to their website), the status of the Active Minds Crisis Response Plan and how many students visit counseling.

As I wait for information about SVSU’s counseling funding and student usage, another important question arises: What can students do, if anything, to help? First, if you are an individual who suffers from depression, anxiety or any other mental health crises, seek help immediately. SVSU’s counseling center is available to all students and, after hours, there are links on the SVSU website for more options.

Whether or not you fear someone you know may be depressed or contemplating suicide, you can still learn how to spot depression and suicidal behaviors. SVSU provides myriad suicide prevention programs to both student and staff members, none of which I had heard about before I began conducting my research. Under the Cardinal Cares website page, the university provides many programs for dealing with issues such as suicide, alcohol, drugs, bias and discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual assault prevention.

One particular program, QPR Training, especially stood out to me. This program is designed to show students and staff how they can prevent suicide and recognize warning signs of mental illnesses. In particular, training focuses on understanding and reacting to suicide, identifying when suicide is most likely going to occur and persuading individuals to get help.

Of course, there are several other programs the university offers to learn about and help those suffering from mental health crises. For more programs, visit the counseling website page or stop by the Counseling Center.

Although suicide prevention week is over, that is no excuse to ignore the facts about mental health and college students. Even if many university officials have not yet been able to supply students with information about SVSU’s mental health and counseling services, it is still each student’s responsibility to take a few minutes out of their day to learn about mental illness and, with that information, develop tools that could potentially save a life.