QU students open up about the benefits of on-campus counseling

By Jessica Abrego

“Most of my anxiety comes out in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For me, those are flashbacks that are debilitating. I cannot move, I cannot think about anything else, they are very intense. Sometimes they are similar to nightmares, but sometimes they are just vivid imagery I cannot get out of my head,” Evan Milsteadt said.

Milsteadt, sophomore at Quincy University, has a genetic predisposition to depression and anxiety. Milsteadt started to experience these feelings around 8th or 9th grade.

“There were some traumatic events in my life that made it worse. I have been dealing with clinically diagnosed depression, generalized anxiety and social anxiety, PTSD, as well as self-harm on and off for six years now,” Milsteadt said.

A group called United Educators reports that an increasing number of college students are reporting that mental health issues—often anxiety, depression, or both—affect their academic work. As these reports increase, demands on campus services, such as counseling centers, will likely continue to grow. In a 2017 national study, approximately 24 percent of students cited anxiety and nearly 16 percent cited depression as affecting their academic work.

“Coming into college was a very different experience because I was not anticipating growing up. Going through years of mental illness growing up I was not anticipating living past 18 or 19. I didn’t have plans for the future, so coming here and making plans for myself was a very new and foreign idea,” Milsteadt said.

Milsteadt has been going to counseling for about five years in is hometown. When he got to college he found the counseling center on campus as an extremely helpful resource.

Macy Ferguson-Smith is part of Quincy Medical Group’s counseling team that provides on-campus care. Quincy Medical Group is contracted with Quincy University to provide therapeutic counseling services to students.

“Last year I saw a lot of simple stress management and time management in sessions. This year it was a lot of self-care. How we do self-care? Things like saying no and doing more things for our selves are the things I see a lot. Or students that lack it rather. We establish a self-care routine and really try to narrow down what is important to them, get their schedules together, just a holistic viewpoint of the person,” Smith said.

“I feel like my mental health issues have gotten better since I have gotten to college, but they certainly have not gone away. I feel like if anything I have learned how to cope with it better, Milsteadt said.

Grace Riley, junior, has also found help in the counseling services offered at Quincy University.

“The counseling services have helped with my eating disorder and alcohol misuse. Evan and I have bonded over the support counseling brings. It is support without guilt. We do not feel guilty expressing our emotions to someone who is genuinely there to listen and wants to help,” Riley said.

“I think it’s important to know what you are going through is serious and it is real. It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to have bad days, just make sure that you take care of yourself. You need to make yourself a priority in your own life,” Milsteadt said.

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