With mental health issues on the rise on campuses nationwide, Troy University’s administration is bouncing around ideas of how to handle student mental health and suicide prevention.
According the the American Psychological Association, 95 percent of college counseling center directors agree that students’ mental health is a growing concern.
Herbert Reeves, the dean of student services, called a meeting with residence hall staff and Fran Scheel, the coordinator of the Student Counseling Center, to consider ideas on what administration could do about the issue.
“We’re seeing more and more students that are reaching out for help,” Reeves said. “Some of them are just having some adjustment issues, but some are having issues that they really need to talk with someone or to work with someone about, and before it goes to becoming a crisis situation, we’re trying to figure out how to be proactive.”
Reeves called the meeting because he saw a “significant increase” in the number of students who went to the counseling center regarding suicidal thoughts — and that number was just the number of students who were actively seeking help.
The number of reported incidents made him realize the university had to take action to get to the students who need help but aren’t pursuing it.
He suggested posting hotlines such as the National Suicide and Crisis Hotlines and posters with pull tabs for the Student Counseling Center around campus to garner attention for the services.
“We definitely want to market (those services),” Reeves said. “A lot of people really function well during the day when their time is occupied by class, but class ends, and at night their thoughts sometimes start to wander.
“There’s got to be some resources available.”
For more serious cases, Reeves suggested organizing a care team, a “group of staff members and faculty members who respond to the issues after hours.”
He said having an overnight observation center could also prove helpful.
“When a student maybe has suicidal ideations (or thoughts) or may act on those but they don’t necessarily need to be hospitalized, versus just sending them back to their dorm or apartment, (we could have) someplace maybe they could stay overnight or get some type of professional who can monitor them overnight until they can seek other help.”
While administration is still considering many other solutions and working to put those into action, the Student Counseling Center is one of the best places at the moment for any student to go for professional help when handling mental health issues.
Noah Higginbotham, a junior business major from Huntsville, said he had a great experience with the counseling center.
“Counseling on campus is wonderful,” Higginbotham said. “(The staff do) a wonderful job at explaining the reasoning behind individual issues and making them feel human and normal.
“I cannot recommend (the counseling center) enough.”
One sophomore general science education major, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the Student Counseling Center helped push her in the right direction toward her mental health. She said she didn’t realize the Student Counseling Center was an option until a friend recommended it to her.
“I just had a breaking point and realized I needed to talk to someone,” she said. “I went to the counseling center, and the woman I spoke to told me she could help as far as counseling goes, but for medicine, which she recommended, she said I would need to go elsewhere.
“She helped me research my options on where I could go and what I could do.”
While the Student Counseling Center is free, students can make an appointment by calling (334) 670-3700.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
If a student faces an immediate health emergency, they should call 911.