Jan. 27, 2016
By Marisa LaBello
Recent data gathered from the Jed Foundation, an emotional and suicide prevention organization, reveals that one-third of college students experience mental health challenges, and not everyone reaches out for help.
Studies conducted by the Jed foundation and Steve Fund in 2015 expose the urgency to improve support for the emotional well-being of America’s college students, specifically students of color.
Based on the data, 60 percent of college students of color wish they had been better prepared for college. To lower the percentage, the two mental health organizations are teaming up to provide more support for the mental health for students of color.
The Jed Foundation encourages high school and college students to understand and speak up about mental health in order to create healthy campus communities. The Steve Fund focuses strictly on improving mental health to young people of color to make smooth life transitions.
The partnership is working to create guidelines and recommendations for students and faculty. The goal is to eliminate the prejudice, shame and stigmas connected to mental health challenges, so students of color can excel in higher education environments.
University Health and Counsel Services (UHCS) wellness coordinator Whitney Henley agrees that mental health resources can always change and improve.
“We have a wide range of students who receive help for mental health,” Henley said. “Some of the students are of color and some students come from a lower economic status. Sometimes they need additional help. There is always room for improvement.”
Based on the data from the Jed Foundation National survey, students of color show discrepancies:
Caucasian students are more likely than African American and Hispanic students to say they feel more academically prepared and more emotionally prepared than their peers during their first term of college
African American and Hispanic students are more likely than Caucasian students to say that it seems like everyone has college figured out but them
Based on these facts, Henleysaid it’s important to get help early if lack of preparedness leaves students in a world of negative thoughts.
“It is crucial for students to recognize and receive help before the problem and emotions become extreme. The best thing to do is not wait.”
Henley said UHCS is open to learning about other recommendations explained by the partnership.
UW-W provides many resources for students who are experiencing mental health challenges. There is free counseling, group therapy, massages and yoga available daily at the Ambrose Health Center.
Students can also turn to student organizations to gain support from their peers. One of the many organizations is Latinos Unidos (LU). President Natalie Arriaga explained the objective of the organization and how students benefit from being involved.
“Latinos Unidos is a social organization. We help students improve social skills,” Arriaga said. “Some students have support going into college, while others don’t. It’s important for students to get used to the classroom setting and learn how to study. We help students get comfortable with college and reasons to stay, find their purpose and get their bachelor’s degrees. We are here to improve the college experience.”
Arriaga went on to say that the challenges minorities feel in a college setting. Colored students can sometimes feel concerned about lack of diversity, isolation or even feel attacked.
But everyone can feel that way regardless of color, she said.
“Sometimes it’s difficult being a minority within a minority, but college can be difficult for everyone. It’s important to have someone to talk to. There is no requirement to get involved with Latinos Unidos. You don’t have to look like us or speak Spanish. Everyone needs someone to talk to.”
Latinos Unidos meets on Thursdays in the University Center at 5:15 p.m. After the meetings, students are encouraged to check out events together to be more involved and adjust with ease.
For any more information regarding mental health and services available, visit www.uww.edu/uhcs.