Negative stigmas must not deter Tech students from seeking help

Stamps Health Services hosted AMA Session. // Photo by Sierra Schmidt

Within the last few months, there have been a number of articles and op-ed pieces stressing the importance of emotional health for all Tech students. Jonathan Peak observed (Technique, 11/2/12) that expanded mental health services would benefit all students and Eran Mordel (1/11/13) and Michael Kirka (2/1/13), this year’s SGA Presidents, stated that mental health is of prime importance in coping with stresses and challenges that both undergraduates and graduates students uniquely face. As Dean of Students and Director of the Counseling Center, we are very appreciative of the student efforts made to highlight the importance of the emotional health of all students at Tech and the various resources that are available to students.

Sne of the most pervasive obstacles to seeking help is the notion of stigma.

While the importance of resources and services are key to providing the help that student may need, perhaps one of the most pervasive obstacles to seeking help is the notion of stigma.

Kamna Bohra best stated this in her op-ed (Technique, 11/2/12) that the key to seeking help is to eliminate the stigma associated with counseling and mental health. Tech is a unique culture composed of talented, high-achieving, ambitious students. It is a community that thrives on the successes of its talents and achievements and looks eagerly to meet challenges and how best to solve them. At the same time, it may perhaps give rise (directly or indirectly) to the stigma that some students experience when trying (to cope with the realities of) dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress.

Stigma can express itself in thoughts such as, “If I ask for help, I’m a weak person,” or “I have to handle this on my own,” or “What’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems to be managing just fine.” Sometimes, stigma can express itself in fears of not wanting to be labeled or seen as different than others. Regardless of the message that stigma takes, stigma can be a powerful barrier for students who may truly desire to seek help in coping with feelings of depression, anxiety or stress.

Regardless of the message that stigma takes, stigma can be a powerful barrier for students.

As members of the Tech community, all of us (students, faculty and staff) play a role in minimizing stigma. One of the ways we can do this is by letting someone know when you are concerned about a friend, roommate, partner or classmate. Sometimes all it takes is someone reaching out to a student to ask if he/she is ok to assist that student getting the help he/she needs. The Office of the Dean of Students has a referral link (“Referral Form”), located on the Office of the Dean of Students homepage that any member of the Tech community can utilize in helping a student. We encourage you to use this link. In addition, information on counseling services and resources can be found on the Counseling Center’s website.

The staffs in the Counseling Center and Office of the Dean of Students are committed to working with students and others in addressing this important issue to help support and create a positive and healthy campus community.