mental health 021320

Licensed clinical social workers Nikiki Stovall and Sarah Nitz believe it’s always a good time to start taking care of your mental health. 

There’s a growing need for mental health services on college campuses. A new environment combined with the daily demands of jobs and a rigorous class load can cause debilitating anxiety and stress. A 2019 survey by the American College Health Association found that 65.7% of students reported they “felt overwhelming anxiety” and 45.1% said they were “so depressed that it was difficult to function” within the last 12 months. The evidence is clear — mental health issues are widespread and serious. However, there needs to be a diverse slate of offerings to address everyone’s needs.

Thankfully, the University of Georgia community has taken steps to solve the problem. Groups like The Healing Circle and La Clinica in LaK’ech address the mental health needs of underrepresented groups, ensuring no one’s voice is lost in the ongoing discussion.

To its credit, UGA is taking mental health seriously. On Jan. 29, UGA President Jere Morehead said that UGA vice president for student affairs Victor Wilson plans to work with the University Health Center to create new campus mental health initiatives. Efforts will include online therapeutic support, wellness coaching and peer mentoring programs.

The university’s efforts to improve its mental health offerings are admirable, and they will certainly help some students. However, those initiatives alone will likely not be enough to solve the problem. Community efforts are needed to supplement the university’s offerings and address specific needs in the UGA community.

Having diverse groups at UGA like The Healing Circle and La Clinica in LaK’ech, which provide mental health services to students of black and Latinx descent, respectively, is important. Different groups have different needs, so one service can’t serve everyone. We need a wide and range of services to hear and connect with diverse perspectives.

Edward Anthony Delgado-Romero, a professor of counseling services at UGA and the founder of La Clinica in LaK’ech, told The Red & Black in October 2019 his team connects with patients by breaking down language barriers. They can also respond to their patients’ specific concerns, such as the rise in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Without La Clinica in LaK’ech, those concerns might have been ignored.

These initiatives also make mental health services much more accessible. Both The Healing Circle and La Clinica in LaK’ech offer their services for free. They also try to break stigmas around receiving mental health treatment, making it easier for people to seek help.

Mental health has become an issue we can’t ignore. Far too many students struggle with anxiety and depression. However, it’s encouraging that so many members of the UGA community are taking action to fix the problem. The diverse efforts are important steps toward ensuring everyone’s voices and needs are heard.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled University of Georgia President Jere Morehead's name. The Red & Black regrets this error.