Helping college students cope with mental health issues

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic has highlighted how important mental health is and how impactful mental wellness can be. Knowing what resources are available can be crucial, especially for college students.

Doug Wermedal, South Dakota State University’s associate vice president of student affairs, says the school has a counseling center on campus which has seen a 15% increase in student visits this year.

“We have eight counselors there, along with hosting several interns from our college and human resource development program, so we also have an academic element in there. We also have two intake coordinators, so a student should be able to get service whenever they call in,” Wermedal said.

The school also has a 24-hour crisis line. This line and the resources at the counseling center are free to students.

“As long as there’s students on campus, we have somebody on duty on that line,” Wermedal said. “You get connected to that line through, typically, a community assistant in the residence halls or University Police Department if they’re responding to a call. And so that is staffed 24/7, so if students are experiencing a crisis, a counselor will not only talk to them on the phone, but typically will come out to the scene depending on the student’s needs.”

Dr. Matt Stanley, from whom you heard on Friday in a report from KELOLAND’s Don Jorgenson, says 30% to 40% of college-age students suffer from either anxiety or depression. Some signs could include irregular eating or sleeping habits and missing class.

“A lot of times it’s a friend, you know, it’s a roommate, it’s a buddy from class, it’s a pal from an intramural team that says, ‘Hey, you seem kind of down,’ and it’s that initial question that can prompt a person to maybe take those steps to get some help,” Wermedal said.

Mental health resources at some South Dakota universities:

South Dakota State University

University of South Dakota

Augustana University

University of Sioux Falls

Dakota State University

Northern State University

Black Hills State University

Mount Marty University

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