Our View: Continue the conversation about mental health

We are a campus in grief.

It’s always difficult losing a member of the Truman community, since it seems like everyone knows — or at least recognizes — all of the students on our campus, whether as just a familiar face in passing or as close friends. It’s difficult in a lot of ways. It’s difficult to talk about our struggles with mental health, and it’s difficult to report on the loss of important members of our thriving community.

With that in mind, we, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, join in offering our condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Alex Mullins and Jake Hughes. We hope to offer a platform for anyone who knew these men to share their stories with those who might not have known them personally. We think it is most important to emphasize their lives — not their passings — moving forward, and hope to provide an avenue where we can remember Alex and Jake.

We, the Editorial Board, also want to keep the conversation about mental health going. We have noticed an older Index article from 2014 being shared a lot recently — it’s titled “Truman ranks high on students with depression” and was written by alumni Dan Mika and Ingrid Roettgen. We want to reopen this conversation and encourage it to continue so we don’t look back two years from now and see only one article about mental wellness on our campus. A tragedy that rocks our community shouldn’t be our only prompt — we should always make it a point to discuss the services available through our University Counseling Services, the stigma of mental illness and how important it is to reach out to those who need it. These are issues that affect us all.

We, the Editorial Board, wish to emphasize that anxiety and stress shouldn’t be treated with offhandedness. Our willingness to joke about how we’re going to have a panic attack or about other serious symptoms that can arise from insufficient self-care serves to trivialize our thoughts about our own mental health, and that’s part of why there is such a stigma associated with mental illness. We even know, as students, that there’s a high anxiety level that can come along with being a full-time college student, but we often decide it isn’t “serious” because it applies to most Truman students. We’re all hardworking and involved, and it’s hard to take a step back and realize the mental health resources on campus aren’t just for those students who we might deem as having bigger problems than stress about an upcoming test. Stress can snowball and become too great, and it’s important that we take the first steps and don’t shy away from talking to people about our stresses and anxieties. It’s okay to feel like something is wrong or for a situation to arise regarding your mental health, and we urge students not to feel ashamed or guilty for asking for help.

Furthermore, we, the Editorial Board, encourage students to reach out to others who are suffering through grief, loss or stress of their own. The grieving process is not simple — there’s no set way for every single person to grieve, and everyone deals with these feelings differently. Grief is also not something short-term, as it requires support beyond the immediacy. We hope students will take every opportunity moving forward to provide a listening ear or a welcome distraction from the grieving process to those who need it. There’s an opportunity to listen and be heard soon, facilitated by Student Affairs and Greek Life and hosted at University Counseling Services in the McKinney Center. From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 1, students can meet UCS counselors and learn important information about the services they provide. It’ll also be an opportunity to share thoughts and memories about Alex and Jake. TMN will send at least one staff member, if not more, to the event, and we hope to see many members of the Truman community there.

We’re all part of a bigger community — a residence hall, Greek Life or the whole of Truman State University. It’s important that we’re there for each other, now and in the future.