Free counseling is available in the student advocacy center.
By Julian Gonzales
To help students stay mentally healthy, this college offers opportunities for exercise, classes in nutrition and counseling and support groups.
The most common mental illnesses are depression and anxiety, “which tend to go hand in hand,” psychology Professor Suzanna Borawski said Feb. 14 in an interview.
Mental illnesses are a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior.
“It could get in your way of being productive or functioning in life,” Borawski said.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the number for common illnesses are approximately one out of five adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year.
Personality disorders such as schizophrenia seem to be the rare types that people might suffer from.
Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder that involves withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion.
“The illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance in something called the neurotransmitters,” Borawski said.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry or boost, and balance neurons, or nerve cells and other cells in the body.
They affect a variety of both physical and psychological functions such as heart rate, sleep, mood and fear.
“For example, if someone was diagnosed with depression, they might have a lower amount of serotonin in critical areas of the brain so they would be prescribed Prozac,” Borawski said.
“The Prozac would then increase the serotonin in the nervous system and help elevate the moods,” Borawski said.
“Basically, when we’re looking at mental illnesses we’re looking at how it impacts a person’s ability to function in society,” Dr. Thomas Billimek, chair of psychology, philosophy and student development, said Feb. 18.
While medication can help some of the illnesses, there are other things that are also attributed to maintaining some control over them.
A healthy diet, cardiovascular exercise and therapy can help with dealing some mental illnesses, she said.
There are also nutrition classes offered to help keep a healthy diet.
The two major classes for nutrition classes are Biology 1322, Nutrition and Therapy, for science majors and Biology 1323, Consumer Nutrition Non-science Majors.
“A healthy diet is going to have a variety and a have balance of all three nutrients — carbs, fats, and nutrients,” biology Professor Shelly Sheppard said Feb. 21.
“We recommend that you just eat a balanced diet. Stay away from the sweets and sugars,” kinesiology Instructor Dawn Brooks said Feb. 18
“Students have access to the gym, the swimming pool, the student fitness center, and we also have a faculty center where the faculty can go work out, too,” Brooks said.
In the Candler Physical Education Center, there are sports and extra-curricular activities that include racquetball, cardio-kickboxing, aquatic conditioning and jogging.
Gym 2 IS open 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and the fitness center is open 11 A.M.-3:45 P.M. Monday-Thursday in Room 108.
The swimming pool in Room 135 is open for free swim 1-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 2-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday through Feb.28. New times will be announced when a new lifeguard is hired.
In the student advocacy center, support groups offer opportunities for therapy using Poetry and music. Specific groups discuss parenting and also depression and anxiety.
The support groups meet weekly Monday through Thursday. The times are available in the advocacy center.
Individual sessions for counseling depend on the availability of the student.
“Just come into the center and we’ll set up an appointment whenever. If the matter is really urgent we’ll try to help you right there,” counseling intern Cody Mitchell said Feb. 18.
The hours for the center are from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.
The Alliance’s website can be accessed at www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers.