It was great to see representatives of the SUNY Geneseo administration at this year’s Mental Health Town Hall Forum and to hear that there’s on-going efforts to improve and distribute resources and support for students.
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH ON CAMPUS
- Participate in Peer Pathways: a peer to peer support service for students ranging from isolated class frustrations to thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Coordinating among students, faculty, staff, and support services to have conversations about how to best support mental health on campus and what resources need to be provided/supplemented
- Connecting students to resources on campus and other systems or structures that can help them during times of mental health challenges
- Working on various committees and organizations to provide counseling for athletes, residents, and other students in various roles on campus in both group and individual settings
- Showing students that they have options available and making those options as available as possible
- Simply providing a little guidance on academics or life events; listening when people need to be heard or need validation that what they are going through is “okay.”
Validating others and their experiences as “okay” is one of the many little ways that we can de-stigmatize help seeking and normalize all mental health experiences as normal and natural
One of the things that we learned from our panelists is that the degree to which we are comfortable seeking mental health support is culturally bound. Often, mental health issues sneak up on us because we haven’t been taught to look for it. When those issues are finally uncovered, it’s important for us to hear that what we are experiencing are normal, that it’s okay to ask for help, and for us to pay it forward to others who might benefit from support.
We heard several mentions of panic attacks from our panelists, both because they have struggled with panic attacks themselves and because panic attacks and generalized anxiety are common among student mental health challenges. The point of a panic attack is not to avoid, stop, or prevent them because a panic attack is a signal that you need some attention. Instead, it’s about recognizing that panic attacks are normal, learning the signs, and cultivating effective coping mechanisms that you can use to manage your panic attacks and to support more generalized efforts to promote mental health.
These strategies might not “stop” a panic attack but they are still valuable for promoting more general mental wellness, which, yes, can help panic attacks!
Beth Cholette, Clinical Director for South Village Counseling Services, addressed concerns about hiring new counselors, stating that resources are limited but, yes, there are plans to hire new counselors in addition to more widely circulating the current resources including group sessions.