There is No Shame in Visiting Your School's Counseling Center

I’m going to try to keep this as short as possible because I know you have a test to study for (as do I).

Most people that put off getting help for mental illness and finally get it say that they wish they had gone sooner, and I can account for that. A couple of weeks ago, the first week of the spring semester ended and I was miserable; my mind was dead set on dropping out completely. I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t normal and that if I was feeling this way so early in the semester, it would only get worse. I had been referred to my school’s Center for Counseling and Student Development multiple times but kept on putting off taking the hike there from my dorm. It was on a Friday that I told myself that I need to go, there must be a reason why I keep getting referred there. I went and let’s just say, I’m still in school and working as hard as ever.

Mental illnesses, the most prominent being anxiety, have become extremely common in college-aged students. Another short story: I went to the health center at my university back in the fall and they referred me to the psychiatrist working there. I went to go book an appointment and he was completely full for a month. I was surprised because when you really think about it, we have absolutely no idea what other people are going through. The quiet girl I sit next to in math could be one of those people, as could the outgoing one always surrounded by her friends. Everyone seems to know how to put on a front that makes them appear confident and positive, when in reality, that is far from the case.

I think there was a subconscious reason for my putting off visiting the counseling center. I told myself that I didn’t know where the building was, even though I could easily look it up on their website. I told myself it was too far of a walk, that I didn’t have time to go because I had too much work to do. Excuses, excuses.

In actuality, I was embarrassed and afraid. I was afraid of getting a call from my mom asking me how my week was going and having to tell her I went to get help. I was afraid I would run into someone I knew in the waiting room. I was afraid someone would recognize me from one of their classes and see me walking to the building the counseling center was in, thinking, "Damn, she must be crazy."

When I walked into the waiting room, it was surprisingly filled with people, each probably in similar situations as mine. There was a radio playing, therapy coloring books, and Post-Its everywhere with positive, uplifting sayings. I felt calm and safe for the first time in months, knowing the understanding counselors would help me get through the semester. I immediately thought to myself that I should have gone sooner.

My point to this article is that there is a negative stigma attached to getting help for mental illness that needs to stop. People might judge you and think you’re crazy, but the reality is that those people need to accept the fact that more and more teens and adults are becoming affected by depression, anxiety, and the like. It is sadly becoming the norm.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. You'll wish you'd gone sooner.