Mental Health Awareness Week: On-campus mental health services and major stressors in college students

Kelby Andrew | The Arbiter

Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place Oct. 2-8, is a time of the year dedicated to providing education and spreading awareness about mental health illnesses and struggles.

Boise State’s Health Services department strives to support students who are struggling in all areas of mental health.

Brette Stephenson, a counselor and fellowship coordinator for Boise State University Health Services, emphasized the importance of bringing awareness to the mental health support systems  available through Health Services.

“Being in a university setting, we really want to raise an awareness around mental health concerns, raise awareness around help-seeking for our students,” Stephenson said. “We want to be able to provide information and education for how to set yourself up in the best way possible for your path forward in lifelong mental health.”

Stephenson shared that Health Services’ offers many specialized types of counseling for students.

“We provide individual, group and family counseling for students. In addition to that, we also have what we call crisis or triage counseling, which is actually walk-in counseling … students can walk in and receive counseling from a staff member and all they have to do is just come to the front desk,” Stephenson said. “We also provide psychiatry services, so prescribing for mental health medications from both our psychiatry staff and various members of our medical staff.”

Students have the option of doing routine counseling with the same provider in person or via Zoom, or  they can make appointments to meet with an available counselor as needed. 

College students especially are at risk for high levels of stress as they adjust to life changes affecting their mental health. In the U.S., 45% of college students claimed to undergo “more than average stress.”

[A student looks at the counseling page on the University Health Services website.]
Kelby Andrew | The Arbiter

“Because we’re on a college campus, and for many people it’s the first time they’ve moved away from home, they’re kind of managing their own schedule. Perhaps they’re doing more than they’ve ever done before, so we meet people making adjustments to all those kinds of things,” Stephenson said. 

Stress factors, specifically academic stress, is correlated with poor mental well-being in students.

Stephenson shared that students seek counseling for a variety of issues, all of which are valid reasons to seek help from an outside source.

“We meet with people about everything from relationship issues, to depression, to anxiety,” Stephenson said. “Typically it would be anxiety, depression, adjustment to new things in their lives, stress, academic stress, relationship stress, substance use issues, perhaps family conflict, relationship conflict. So anything that really concerns mental health and well being.”

Higher stressors in college students include academics, work outside of school, social life issues and academic performance pressure. 

Stephenson emphasized the importance of assisting students with their mental health in ways that will help them in the long term. This means developing healthy coping habits, taking the time to take care of oneself, as well as understanding the importance of reaching out for help and when to do it.

“How do you take care of yourself in a way that makes it so that you have the best chances at having really good mental health?” Stephenson said. “We do this of course through education, through outreach, but also through providing services here.”

Health Services also provides group therapy. The groups are thematically focused, and they provide the opportunity for students to talk about specific issues they are all struggling with, creating a support group among peers. 

Stephenson shared that groups change depending on student interest, but future groups are expected to discuss topics such as grief and loss, body positivity, LGBTQ support, ongoing mental health management and stress reduction. 

Students can inquire about joining these therapy groups by contacting Health Services in person or via telephone at (208) 426-1459.

Health Services will be providing information about mental health awareness and services on campus at the upcoming Parent and Family Weekend from Oct. 7-9.

Health Services is open to walk-in counseling from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and starting 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. Students can also call the Health Services front desk and are encouraged to utilize the 988 crisis hotline number in the case of a mental health emergency.

Leave a Reply