Make your mental health a priority

I used to think the idea of going to counseling was weird. There wasn’t any particular reason why. I think it’s just how our generation was raised. Mental health was this sort of thing that we all chose to sweep under the rug and pretended it didn’t exist. It might as well have been the boogeyman hiding in our closets, and if we just closed our eyes, it would disappear…right?

Part of it has to do with our parents’ generation’s mentality. They were raised on that good old “suck it up, buttercup” motto. There was no room for crying or feeling sad. They were taught to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and pretend like nothing ever happened. While this attitude might be helpful in certain situations, it does not exactly foster proper emotional responses or coping mechanisms.

At the same time, our parents raised us with a bit more tenderness than what they received. Some call it “helicopter parenting,” but I do not think there’s anything wrong with caring about your child on more than a surface level. Of course, parenting is a personal challenge with a lot of specific choices that have to be made depending on the child, but I’m a firm believer parents should at least ask their kids about their mental health.

It’s clear our generation and the generations born after us care more about mental health and breaking down the stigmas of receiving help than any generation before.

Here at Waynesburg University, the Counseling Center is overflowing with a record number of students. People are finally coming around to the idea of not only mental health but also being open about receiving clinical health.

Last semester, I was going through a difficult time. It was a long time coming after six straight semesters of working as hard as I could at school, all while enduring a major break-up, the death of my grandmother and other stressful situations that caused me to crumble.

Last semester, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was completely depressed and burnt out, and would have very frequent anxiety attacks. I knew I needed help, but I was too afraid. My pride didn’t want me to admit I had a problem, and the idea of talking to a stranger about it was terrifying.

However, thanks to the support of my friends, family and boyfriend, I got the help I needed, and I started seeing a counselor regularly. While I am not as bad as I was last semester, I knew I never wanted to feel that way again.

So far, it has been great to release a lot of the pent up stress that I’ve been holding on to, and simply to have someone listen. Since going to counseling, I have already seen a major shift in myself. I regret not going earlier in my college career, because I feel like it would have saved me a lot of grief.

That said, if you’re someone who is going through something, I want to be the first to tell you that it is OK to ask for help, especially from counsellors. Never feel like you have to go at it alone.