National suicide prevention week: how Concordia addresses the mental health of students 

MOORHEAD — Suicide Prevention week is a nationally recognized week from Sept. 10 to Sept. 16 that focuses on the awareness and prevention of suicide in America.  

Suicide is an ever-prevalent topic in our world, where one in four adults suffer from mental illness. Conversations about suicide have become increasingly important in the past decade. 

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, college students are one of the most at-risk demographics, as suicide is the third leading cause of death in individuals aged 15-24. Last semester, the Center for Holistic Health, CHH, was created as a way to make health services more accessible to students.  

“The goal of the Center for Holistic Health is to reach students with appropriate services in a timely fashion so they can reach their greatest potential,” CHH director, Heather Simonich said. 

Being mentally healthy looks different for all students. For some, visiting the CHH is not seen as a necessary option.  

What we see is a lot of students with really, really scheduled days. How do you also make sure to take care of yourselves?” Simonich said. “I think there’s some things that students can do outside of just mental health counseling every day to help prioritize and make sure that we’re addressing good mental wellness each and every day. Things like making sure you’re relying on your traditional support system, taking care of yourself in terms of eating well, and physical activity. We know those things can greatly improve mental health.”  

Knowing when to seek help is often a difficulty for students, especially if they have not dealt with mental health concerns in the past. 

“I think for each student, when to seek help looks a bit different. Overall, if you’re contemplating whether you need to seek help, you should seek help,” Simonich said.  

The CHH is the first place a student should go to learn about health resources on campus. The first step is to set up a consultation appointment with no strings attached. 

“That appointment isn’t committing you to counseling or any sort of intervention or long-term commitment,” said Simonich, “But it’s an opportunity to talk through the resources and supports that we have here on campus and then a counselor can help get you pointed in the right direction.”  

Reactions from students about how the CHH has helped their mental health have been largely positive.  

“I got to Concordia and to be honest I didn’t love it. I ended up talking to a counselor who helped me work through my struggles,” first-year student, Emma Ravnaas, said. “Everyone there was super sweet and helpful and provided me with the resources I needed.” 

However, the CHH is currently not equipped to deal with urgent mental health issues. 

“I scheduled an appointment and ended up not getting the appointment for two weeks, which was disappointing considering I wanted solutions to my problems as soon as possible,” first-year student, Jordan Masterson said. 

The CHH can be a great resource for students who want mental health assistance, but due to the high demand for their services, they are booked out for a couple weeks.  

“We’re here to support you. That support looks different for every student and we’re here to help you navigate what resources and supports might be available that are the right fit for you” 

If a student, or someone they know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they should not hesitate to reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. 

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