In the wake of a student death there lies a certain hush across campus. Both the Fargo-Moorhead and Cobber community are recovering from the loss of a student who was described to be a joy to all around him. Many students have been feeling the void of his presence and are reminded of how truly fleeting humanity can be. In times like these, it is paramount that as we move forward we prevent students from feeling such solitude in their sadness and that they don’t align with desperation as their last resort. Yet, at the end of the day, this issue boils down to students taking the first step and asking for help when it is hardest.
For mental health resources on campus, the Counseling Center remains the homebase for the majority of students. Found in a small office upon hanging a right at the Tabernacle (aka the couches above the Korn Krib), this important resource can easily be missed. But upon wandering inside, you will receive only the warmest of welcomes from the staff. Constantly working hard to eliminate the negative stigma attached to mental health, the Counseling Center broadcasts the fact that all Cobbers are not smiling stick people but, like anyone, struggle and need support to heal sometimes. Active Minds’ mental health week on campus is an example of just one of the numerous ways the Counseling Center goes above and beyond to help students.
Still, Cobbers find themselves overdosing on the need for complete independence and many fall victim to harmful mindsets where you can conquer anything with just a little more coffee and a little less sleep. This issue has lead to the canonization of attitudes and lifestyles that are not healthy. Students end up writing off their deprecating behavior or mental struggles as a typical college phase and sweep their issues under the rug.
National Statistics state that over 75 percent of mental health issues develop by age 24 and it is tackling these concerns early that truly sets students apart in the long run. The popular reasoning for ignoring these issues include pushing through to the summer or holding out until after college. Both of these explanations are simply a comforting blanket weaved of false truths. Life after college remains just as stressful due to the real-life application. Many students would think otherwise though, believing that the day you are done studying for tests is the day it all gets a lot easier. After college, you have to solidify your lifestyle as an individual person while trying to find a job or settle into your career. With only avoidance approaches to your overall well-being to pull from while at Concordia, an easy transition into adulthood will be even harder to grasp.
Taking advantage of resources like our Counseling Center, the Academic Enhancement Center, the Safe Space zones on campus or even the Student Affairs office will only help your situation if you struggle with these issues. Although many Cobbers understand the seriousness of mental health and take advantage of the Counseling Center, the students who hold off from dealing with personal issues or feel they don’t have time to pour into emotional progress are students who are limiting themselves because of a mental stigma or putting themselves last. Getting help and understanding that it is normal to do as well as putting yourself first will only allow for you to reach your goals easier and have a happier life.
That is not to say that everyone struggles with mental health issues or that in college there won’t be nights when you have to stay up late or drink coffee. But for the students who wake up feeling sad too often, who skip lunch and eat little dinner, who feel a constant stress in their day, who can’t look in the mirror too long, who still have traumatic flashbacks or students who know they could develop a better internal dialogue, the campus is waiting to support you. By first acknowledging you are not alone or helpless, and understanding you are not in a good place at this moment and that this doesn’t make you a lesser person, it becomes possible to reach out and make progress on these issues. Student deaths on campus can be a reason to grieve as well as a lesson to learn. You only start living up to your truest potential when you value yourself and understand mental illness is normal and can be dealt with. Supporting our fellow Cobbers who are struggling behind the scenes and congratulating those who reach out for help has never been more relevant than with a loss in the family and a world full of hardship. Dealing with mental illness simply means you wish to grow and heal and have only an exclamation point at the end of your Concordia experience.