This year, the Mental Health Portal was opened for the student body to provide students with continued access to Tech’s mental health resources and information. Mental health is a consistent concern among the student body, and Stamps Health along with SGA have attempted to make Tech’s resources more accessible and easier for students in need.
The mental health portal is one of the student resources recommended by Tech’s Mental Health Task Force, which was formed last year in response to a white paper by student leaders on campus.
“The white paper came out last year, and it talked about the environment at Tech and the stresses on students and offered recommendations,” said Dr. Shannon Croft, the Lead Psychiatrist at Stamps Health Center. “Some of the recommendations included offering availability for counseling services, alleviating pressures put on students and giving more resources for student success.”
Once Lynn Durham, Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff to the President, organized the task force, 11 general recommendations were made to aid mental health concerns, including surveying types of students on campus, making a student wellness center, centralizing information on services for students and more.
The Mental Health Portal is one initiative by the task force, and the intention was to assist students who are hesitant about reaching out. In addition, student organizations, such as SGA, have offered input to this resource.
“The portal is designed to be an anonymous way students can see what resources are available to them,” said Brandie Banner, SGA Executive Vice-President. “Tech has many resources for students who are struggling, but in the past those students have been difficult to identify. I am confident the mental health portal will help students find the resources that best cater to their needs.”
Mental health concerns are very consistent at Tech and according to Croft, students experience a variety of serious personal dilemmas.
“At Tech, we see a number of serious situations that include crippling depression, anxiety that stops people from leaving their room, failing all classes or withdrawing from friends,” Croft said. “We have also observed destructive actions like smoking five times in a day, binge drinking, which has sadly become very common on campus, and, unfortunately, even suicide.”
Croft stated that Tech has at least one student who commits suicide each year and while the reasons are not always clear, he emphasized that balance is important for students and healthy living.
“The purpose of the mental health portal and what we really want are for Tech students to avail themselves to all of the resources available to them and get them to realize there is a lot of support at Tech,” Croft said. “The faster that we can intervene, the quicker we can act to avert any trouble.”
As a Tech student, Banner believes that the campus should strive to eliminate the common hesitation in reaching out for help. If students can overcome those obstacles, she states that they can only improve.