Working in Student Affairs means dealing with students that live from a variety of backgrounds. My main focus the past few weeks, with my first pro-staff position starting soon, as been on students with a background of mental health. I know with future training and counseling classes I will learn how to best help students, but it is more than just being to help the students. I want to understand more about them on a personal level and find deeper insight to help.
As I started thinking about students with mental health, I realized I should also consider my own and other SA professionals. There are many professionals and grads that deal with mental health in their personal lives. I realized that I needed to find a way to better understand not only my own struggles with mental health along and not just the students. In my search for such insight, I came across an article that I found very helpful.
I found this article recently and felt it provided a great look at high functioning depression from The Mighty. From my own experience, I found the article to be enlightening. Usually when it comes to our students we would look for the failing grades, not leaving rooms, roommate concerns, etc as warning signs. Sometimes depression can not be seen by looking at surface of someone’s life and deciding if they fall under a checklist of symptoms. This article points out that those suffering from high functioning tend not to exhibit the warnings of depression.
Those suffering from this form of depression can be seen as active within the community and have good grades or good relationships at work. I think it is important to remember that every student and co-worker could be living with this struggle and no matter how someone acts they can still be in trouble. We need to look past the signs and find other ways to get students and colleagues to open up about issues. While I do not think everyone needs to be interrogated, I think we need to provide support that allows those suffering to to feel comfortable enough to speak up when they are struggling and get help.
The line that hit me the most from the article was “if we keep allowing our perception of what mental illness looks like to dictate how we go about recognizing and treating it, we will continue to overlook those who don’t fit the mold.” I do not want to overlook students, nor do I want to overlook my own struggle nor other grads/professionals.
I think it is important to keep reading material such as this one and look for more resources for students.
As SA professionals we are the ones who can get someone the help and in turn it may help ourselves.
Til next time ❤
**Post below any great sources you have found to help students with mental health issues!**