By Abigail Moore
Kayla Cheney could tell something was off. She had been struggling for a while, though did not know how to express that she was. She’d been living in the stigma of mental illness and was determined to change.
Cheney is a junior, studying psychology, with hopes of changing the stigma of mental illness. She believes mental illness should not be a taboo subject, but something that every person can come to understand and embrace. Cheney says the stigmatism of how mental illness affects the average person, is everywhere.
“There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness. If you break a bone, the doctor can show you what you broke. If you have a mental illness, people can’t see it, so people say it’s not a real thing because you can’t see it,” Cheney said.
According to a recent study, one in four students have a diagnosable illness and almost half of those students do not seek any help. The most common diagnosable issues found in students today are depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addiction.
Cheney believes that there is always breaking point for each person when they realize they need help. She understands that having a mental illness is not something that people talk about. Cheney understands the struggle and uses her resources to cope. She also wants to be there for those who struggle like she has.
“I think a lot people stay quiet about it. A lot of people that have mental illnesses are some of the strongest people I know. Our lives are a little bit harder. It’s not easy, but it’s doable,” Cheney said. “I think people should be more understanding of mental illness. So, If I have something to help me cope, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
For students struggling in the same way, Quincy University offers options for students to receive the help and support they need.
Maggie Althide, LSW, and Millie Silver, MSW, LCSW, are available for behavior health concerns at Quincy University’s Counseling Center. The center helps students to deal with a variety of real-life, school-related and personal issues, including; general anxiety, depression, family conflict, motivation, self-esteem, relationship issues, test anxiety, and stress management. Counseling offers coping skills, including; being social, exercise, self-care, and mindfulness. Counseling services also encourage students to take time to meditate and breathe, hit the gym, set realistic goals, and get involved around campus.
Maggie Althide is one of the two counselors on campus who are always available to students for support. Althide believes that every mental issue or concern is individualized, though a common factor is stress.
“The counseling services we provide are really anything that a student would reach out to a counselor for, that we are willing to help with as a center,” Althide said.
Althide is always focusing on the positive with the students who reach out to her for help. She consistently relays the importance of self-care and a healthy mind.
“The key to mental health is a balance of a lot of different things; taking care of yourself, eating good food, getting involved in yoga, reaching out, positive thinking and a positive mind, going along with health is also getting a good night sleep, which is very important,” Altheide said.
Both counsellors prioritize making sure the students feel comfortable with sharing their emotions.
“We want students to know we are here for them. We are a totally free service we are also confidential and the things that we talk about will stay between us. And that’s important for students to know. There are a couple reasons we would have to break confidentially though everything else stays between us,” Althide said.
Sophomore psychology student David Webb, expresses that good mental health is essential to maintaining balance. His psychology classes give him the opportunity to expand his knowledge of mental health, which expressed excitement about.
“There’s a decent chance that a lot comes from pressures that come from themselves. They overload themselves with pressures of work, then they shut down and don’t end up doing anything,” Webb said.
Even as a student himself, Webb encourages all students to diminish the stigma and be aware of those struggling.
“Keep an open mind because you don’t know what battles someone could be facing. You could be facing your own mental health trial, just as someone else is. Just keep an open mind,” Webb said.
Cheney has made it a priority to help others around her understand what mental illness truly is. She makes a point to be patient and encouraging with her words to her peers and advocates for the importance self-love.
“If I could say to someone struggling or even my younger self, I’d say give the medicine a chance and speak up and talk to someone. Reaching out for help is the best thing for your mental health. Taking care of yourself is not selfish,” Cheney said.
Other places on campus that offer help and support in a healthy well-being, are the QU Walk In Clinic and Student Success Center, lower level of Brenner Library.
Heather Leindecker and Kelly Hummel, work in QU Walk in Clinic, seeing patients for colds, rashes, coughs, and sore throats, no appointment necessary.
The counselling center is accessible to all students enrolled at the university without cost.
For an appointment, stop by the office in Friars Hall or call (217) 228-5432 ex. 3785.
The office hours for the counseling center are:
Monday and Wednesday, 8:30 – noon, 1pm – 6 pm
Tuesday and Thursday, 8am – noon, 1 pm to 6 pm
Friday, 8 am- 12pm.