What to do if you're Struggling With at UT

Most college students have felt anxiety or depression at some point in their four years as an undergrad. According to the executive director of the JED Foundation which is an organization dedicated to reducing suicide and improving mental health among college students, Courtney Knowles says the average age for individuals who struggle with some sort of mental health issue is between 18 and 24, the average age of college students. And the number of college students who feel depressed or anxious continues to rise. Rolando Perez, a counselor at The University of Tampa’s Health and Wellness Center says “The number of students seeking counseling has been increasing every year since I started working here in 2010. The counseling center has added 3 counselors since then.” Which is exactly why UT has partnered with the JED foundation for the next 4 years. In a UT press release announcing the partnership, Gina Firth, the Associate Dean of Wellness at UT, said “Our partnership with JED comes at a very important time when mental health and substance abuse issues are increasing on a national level. We want to make sure we are providing all of the necessary support for our students’ well being.”

 

There are many reasons for college students to feel stressed. Going off to college can be a difficult time for people in general. You leave home, in some cases move far away, and basically start your life all over again. You have to adapt to a new environment, make new friends, and detach yourself from what you have known your whole life to be true. On top of that, adjusting to a new academic structure can be very challenging, and can cause a lot of stress among individuals. Feeling overwhelmed with school is common among college students, and if that wasn’t enough, college students say one of the main reasons they don’t know how to cope with these problems is because they feel lonely. Stephanie Moir, a licensed mental health counselor at the Serene Mind Psychology clinic in W. Kennedy Blvd in Tampa FL says that “The most common reason anyone attends therapy is that they are lonely or do not feel support.” This is especially true when talking about college students. So, if you are in college and struggling with your mental health, this is what you need to know in order to get better.

 

The First Step

 

In a situation where you find yourself unable to find happiness or you cannot control your anxiety, the first thing you should do is acknowledge it. It seems simple enough, but most of the time, people don’t want to accept they have a mental health issue for many reasons. Maybe you tell yourself you don’t have time to deal with it or maybe you just don’t want to be considered ‘crazy’ because you have to go to a therapist, but the most important part of dealing with a mental health problem is coming to terms with it. “The first step is always awareness. Being more aware of how we feel and think can really be a game changer. After you are aware of how you think, you can learn to change it,” said Dr. Moir. We often think that if we are not happy all the time, that there is something wrong with us, but that is not true. Emotions are healthy to have and suppressing these is not the right way to deal with them. Dr. Moir states that a very important step feeling better allowing yourself to feel these emotions and accept them. “Validating that they (college students) have emotions and that emotions are healthy to have is important. The thing they have to work on is changing their mindset and what they do in regards to how they feel,” said Dr. Moir. It seems that the way to deal with unwanted emotions is not to run from them, but rather, acknowledge them, come to terms with them, and then working on changing your reaction to them. However, when these emotions become too much, it is important to recognize that you need help. “If these feelings are getting in the way of your every-day functioning, please ask for help,” said Firth. Firth also agrees that restructuring your thought process in regards to your emotions can be a game-changer. “Some tips for dealing with anxiety and depression are to work on building a growth mindset. Try to reframe difficult situations into a positive. Focus on gratitude, even writing down what you are grateful for once per week will help,” said Firth.

 

So, I know I have a problem, what now?

 

Once you have come to terms with the fact that you have a mental health problem, the next step is seeking help, which may be the hardest part. As stated above by Dr. Moir, one of the main reasons people go to therapy, in general, is because of loneliness. So, if someone is feeling lonely, who do they go to talk to? As a college student it may be easier to talk to someone our own age

because it is easier to relate to one another, but what does someone do when they feel they don’t have anyone they can trust? There is nothing wrong with going to see a therapist. No, you are not crazy, and no, once you start going that does not mean you will need to go for the rest of your life. Accepting you need help can be scary, but you don’t need to deal with your problems alone. More and more people are seeking counseling at the Health Center in the University of Tampa. Firth says that “There has been an increase in both usage of the counseling center and crisis response here at UT.” So, going to seek therapy is becoming more of a norm now and there is no shame in going to your school’s counselor. Kathryn Schaffer, a senior sociology major, started going to the UT’s Health Center when she found out her parents were separating her sophomore year and has been going ever since. “Being able to talk to a professional about what's going on and get their take on it is incredibly useful and it helps to break down whatever is going on and then go about finding solutions to it or coping strategies. Even just checking in for my mental health works,” said Schaffer.

 

“Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!” –Rolando Perez

 

When you are depressed, exercise seems like the last thing on earth a college student might want to do. Not having enough time, not knowing what to do in the gym, or not having someone to go with are the classic excuses for why we refuse to get our sweat on, but we fail to realize all of the benefits that exercise actually provides. Apart from improving your mood, exercising forces you to get out of bed. It is an hour or so of your day that you are dedicating to yourself. After a while, it will be impossible to not want to go to the gym because of how much better you will be feeling. Physical activity does not only improve your physical health, but it is said to be the #1 method for getting out of depression. In a study done by the US National Library of Medicine, they found that "exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.” Perez says “the most important step to feeling better is exercise, then go to counseling.”

 

Yoga

Yoga is a great form of exercise for those who are not too keen on heavy cardio and want a more gentle form of physical activity. It is also a great transition into more cardio based exercise if you are beginning to get into exercising. A study done also for the US National Library of Medicine, found that yoga actually decreased symptoms of depression among subjects. In the study “Positive therapeutic and neurotrophic effects of yoga in depression: A comparative study” the researchers found that “patients receiving yoga with or without anti-depressants had a greater reduction in depression scores than antidepressants alone.” There are many more studies like this one that show how beneficial yoga can be. Even though it still counts as exercise, it is a different type of exercise. In yoga, every pose is an invitation. If the pose is too much, you can choose to relax. You get a workout but only the amount that you challenge yourself to complete, making it more mentally challenging than other forms of exercise. Yoga is about mental stamina, challenging yourself to stay in a pose that may be difficult to stay in. The goal is to think that as you are enduring that pose, the strength you are using will be the same strength you draw from whenever you are enduring a problem in your life. Yoga usually goes hand in hand with meditation, a practice that works with different breathing techniques to relieve anxiety and relax. Fallon Fischer, a senior communication major at UT, says yoga and meditation are a big part of her life because they contribute to her overall well-being in numerous ways. “I use meditation and yoga to help me de-stress from the chaos of life. Yoga is also a great exercise and I like exercising in a group setting and having that mindfulness aspect woven into the exercise which makes it that much more meaningful,” said Fischer. Fischer felt the need to start hosting meditation classes herself on UT’s campus after she saw the benefits it provided. “Meditation is something I care about passionately because it’s something everyone can do and you don’t have to do anything but just be present in the moment,” said Fischer.

Counseling, exercise, meditation, and yoga will not cure depression and anxiety automatically, but it will give you the strength to deal with it. At the end of the day, you have to want to get better. It is up to you to improve your own health because as harsh as it sounds, no one is coming to save you, you have to do it yourself.

 

Resources (on campus):

Counseling Center – 813- 253- 6250

Wellness Center 813- 257- 1877

Students of Concern 813- 257 3757 | https://www.ut.edu/studentofconcern/

Victim Advocate Hotline 813- 257- 3900

Campus Safety 813- 257- 7777

Organizations:

Live Well UT 813- 257-1877 | [email protected] | https://www.livewellut.org

Meetings: Fridays 8:30 am | Fitness Center Training Room

 

Active Minds (630) 235-0499

https://www.facebook.com/ActiveMindsUT?fref=ts

Instagram: utactiveminds

Student coordinators:

Name: Julia Staiano Email: [email protected]

Name: Debra Tuberian Email: [email protected]

 

Balance UT (401) 862-7709

 

Student Coordinators:

Name: Mia Perilli

Email: [email protected]

Name: Fallon Fischer

Email: [email protected]

 

Healing Arts

Student coordinator: Dakota Kuharich Email: [email protected]

 

Events (October):

  • Dr. Greg Eells speaks on Resiliency and Mental Health on the evening of Monday, October 29th
  • Better Together Meeting Tuesday, Oct 16 7 pm Sykes Chapel Room107

 

Bible Studies:

  • Baptist Collegiate Ministries
    • Tuesdays, 7 pm, First Baptist Church of Tampa Chapel
    • Thursdays, 8 pm, 2nd floor of Jenkins Hall
    • Sundays, 12:15-2: 00 pm, FBC Tampa Life Tree Café
    • Contact: [email protected]

 

Athletes Small Group

  • Mondays, 8 pm, Brevard Hall, Room 824

 

Jubilee - Caribbean Small Group

  • Mondays, 8 pm, North Walker Hall, Room 133

 

Home - LGBTQ + Small Group

  • Mondays, 8 pm, Plant Hall, Room 327

 

Genesis - Freshman Small Group

  • Mondays, 8:15 pm, Palm Apartments, Room 714

 

Men’s Small Group

Tuesdays, 8 pm, Brevard Hal, Room 911

  • Beloved - Women’s Small Group
    • Tuesdays, 8 pm, Sykes Chapel, Meditation Room
  • BCM – Black Campus Ministry
    • Tuesdays, 8 pm, North Walker Hall, Room 135
  • MC – Multicultural Small Group
    • Wednesdays, 8:15 pm, Brevard Hall, Room 911
  • Latino Fellowship
    • First Tuesday of Every Month, 8 pm, Palm Apartments, Room 714

 

Off Campus Resources:

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 800 273-8255

Crisis Text Line Text: 741741

 

Serene Mind Psychology 813- 321- 8280 | [email protected]

3312 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa FL 33609

 

Leah Benson Therapy (727) 688-2644

Carmen St, Tampa, FL 33606

 

South Tampa Therapy and Mediation (813) 240-3237

425 S Orleans Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

 

Tampa Therapy LLC (813) 474-9395

4320 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33609

 

Online Resources:

http://mindingyourmind.org

https://www.activeminds.org

https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/student-mental-health-resources/

https://startyourrecovery.org

https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/college-student-mental-health/

https://www.jedfoundation.org