Campus mental health needs more outreach

It is well known that Truman State University students face mental health issues, and COVID-19 is having an undeniable effect on students’ mentality. While there are multiple efforts to improve campus mental health, one effort that seems to be lacking is the University’s outreach to students.

Perhaps the biggest efforts in outreach are during Truman Week, but that’s not enough. Occasionally during Truman Week, it is mentioned that the University offers counseling sessions to students and makes the suicide hotline number well known. This could be enough in a normal time, but in the midst of a pandemic, Truman could be doing more for its students. 

Because mental health issues are already so prominent at the University, why is there not more of an outreach to the student body? Generally, the most “outreach” that students get is being randomly selected to take part in a mental health survey. That is not the best form of outreach that can be done if the goal is to educate students on the signs of stress, anxiety and depression, which are all more common when students generally do not have much free time or many activities to use as an outlet. 

Many students are not able to just take a day off for self care and relaxation to prevent a situation from snowballing into a bigger problem, so they continue to overwork themselves and get little choice in what they can do to relax when the time comes. 

Professors can be a part of outreach by being required to include mental health information in their syllabi. Mental health is an important issue that should be covered on syllabus day alongside the other important pieces of information faculty are required to give students. Syllabi could include information about campus counseling services and signs of over stressing, anxiety and depression. It would be a good way to start outreach. 

Truman can also reach out to students through a personalized email or stressing mental health more during Truman Week to show students what depression looks like, as well as emphasizing the importance of awareness to all students. This could make it easier to pinpoint when someone needs help. Reaching out to emergency contacts to make sure that students are doing well from another perspective is another step that could be taken. The University could even do better about informing students of the services that University Counseling Services provides.

Mental health needs to be taken more seriously at Truman, especially when there is a pandemic that is affecting most of the population’s mental health. A good first step is to amp up the outreach.