MU Mental Health works to reduce stress, anxiety

Mental Health Center offer services to help improve emotional health.

College can be a socially stimulating and intellectually challenging experience. This quaint balance can turn sour quickly when overly ambitious students stretch themselves too thin. The Student Health Center's Mental Health Center offers a variety of services to combat stress, anxiety and other problems resulting from the rigor of college.

Every year since 1985, University of California –Los Angeles has administered the CIRP Freshman Survey, an annual survey of the nation's students entering four-year colleges and universities. 2010’s self-ratings concerning emotional health are at a record low.

According to this year’s survey news release, “Only 51.9 percent of students reported that their emotional health was in the ‘highest 10 percent’ or ‘above average,’ a drop of 3.4 percentage points from 2009.”

Accompanying this downward trend of self-reported emotional health is an increase is academic abilities and drive, according to the study.

MU’s mental health facilities offer holistic mental care in an effort to combat this stress felt by students.

“Students come in for a variety of reasons,” said Debbie Wright, director of the MU Mental Health Center. “They might come in if they’re have trouble transitioning into college or trouble meeting new people. If they’re struggling with anxiety or depression, if they have a major unexpected event in their life, if they have relationship issues — we help with everything and anything.”

The Mental Health facilities staff Ph.D. level psychologists and psychiatrists to offer assistance.

“We have both psychologists and psychiatrists on staff to serve different needs,” Wright said. “If needed, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Everyone can work together and communicate.”

Wright said she thinks almost all of the students are coming in because they want to, not because they are being required to by anyone.

“Students are realizing that everyone deals with stress and anxiety,” Wright said.

The Mental Health Center offers more than just medical services. Biofeedback allows students to learn how to physiologically manage anxiety by tracking physiological changes in the body. The drop-in “Peace of Mind” class gives students advice on how to control stress. “Mindfulness” stress reduction classes offer support on issues such as eating patterns and gender support.

“Students can learn how to manage their stress and implement these skills,” Wright said.

The Mental Health Center works with the Counseling Center on occasion, though the two are separate entities. All student health facilities are under the hospital system, and the Counseling Center is part of Division of Student Affairs.

“The counseling center offers a wide variety of services — grief counseling, relationship issues, support for trauma survivors,” Counseling Center Director Christy Hutton said. “We have a men’s group. We also offer help for those dealing with eating disorders or body image problems. We do outreach by training faculty and staff, reaching out to students and student groups and offering first aid training. We also have crisis walk-in, so if something happens, students can come right to us.”

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