USC was awarded the JedCampus Seal in recognition of its strong mental health program on Oct. 3.
The USC Engemann Student Health Center completed a voluntary self-assessment reviewing its mental health and suicide prevention programming on campus in order to receive this recognition from The Jed Foundation, which focuses on promoting emotional health and preventing suicide. The process also allowed USC to receive confidential feedback, which will benefit the university’s programming and resources.
The health center works to raise awareness of mental health and help students suffering from mental issues in various ways. The center has “gatekeepers” on campus who are trained to identify and engage students who would benefit from psychiatric help. USC also runs Say Something, a campaign that teaches students how to handle mental health problems.
Dr. Ilene Rosenstein, director of Student Counseling Services at the health center, said she attempts to reach a variety of students with the center’s programs.
“One of the things the Jed Foundation really commented on is that we’re a very big campus but we really have shown that we have also a big and complex system that works, reaching people from all different schools, all different programs, all different backgrounds,” Rosenstein said.
Mental health issues are prevalent among college students, and three-quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24. According to the Jed Foundation, 21.2 percent of college students received a psychiatric diagnosis or were treated for mental health issues last year.
Some students said they were already aware of the mental health issues on campus.
“[College students] are going through so much change and so many different things in the environment,” said Kelly Gubbens, an undeclared sophomore. “I think mental health issues are definitely prevalent on campus.”
Officials aid that mental health is not fully recognized as an issue on college campuses.
“I think we have many students who perceive that everyone else is perfect and doing fine and really many people are struggling. thriving, too, but some people are really feeling that they want to function at a better level with a higher quality of life,” Rosenstein said.
Many students said they believe it is important to raise mental health awareness in order to deal with issues that are especially prevalent among young adults.
“I don’t think they should be embarrassed but I definitely do think, currently, a stigma exists,” said Mina Saffarian, a junior majoring in policy, planning and development. “A lot of people wouldn’t want to admit if they’re on medication or anything just because I feel like people would be afraid that they’re judged more and then kind of make the problem worse.”
Research shows that ignoring emotional health issues can lead to substance abuse, self-harm and suicide, the second leading cause of death among college students. Other students agreed that part of the problem is a tendency to ignore mental health problems instead of discussing them.
“I think the problem with it is that not enough people talk about it,” said Tamara Flosse, a senior majoring in business administration and environmental studies. “A lot of times everybody knows that everybody else has issues or does drugs, like enhancing drugs, and it has become so normal that people don’t talk about it anymore and assume that it’s the norm when really it shouldn’t be.”
Jaime Travers, a junior majoring in political science and politics, philosophy and law, said that being aware of mental health issues would benefit many students.
“I think it’s also important for people to be aware of what can trigger these mental issues because I know a lot of drugs can trigger it,” Travers said.