Mental health and counseling should be priority for students


Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

Elyn Saks, suffering from chronic schizophrenia, had hardly eaten for a week. Her face felt like a mask and she moved as if her legs were wooden. Sitting in total darkness with the curtains drawn and her room in utter disrepair, help was a necessity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “Mental illnesses account for a larger proportion of disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.”

But a stigma exists around counseling in the U.S., according to the American Psychological Association. We all have emotions. It’s important to learn how to manage them in a healthy way.

In our society, we want to fit in. We often stuff down unwanted or spastic emotions that prevent us from doing so.

Getting a grip on emotions can feel like clinging to monkey bars, sprayed with WD-40. Solutions found in capsules and tablets often become appealing.

While pills are often necessary, they are not always the best answer. In the British Broadcasting System documentary, “The Trap,” American psychiatrist Paul McHugh states that humans have a “particular ideal model” and want medications that will help them fit this model.

McHugh goes on to explain that these medications dull unpleasant emotions, such as worry and grief. Trouble is, mitigating complex and difficult emotions, without proper need, only makes us simpler. Progress is often made through struggle.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that talk therapy often helps people avoid and change unhealthy thought patterns. Life can be overwhelming. We all have our ups and downs.

I suspect, from time to time, we could all use someone to talk to.

Everything about Saks’s struggle with schizophrenia suggests that she could not be a functioning member of society. Well, thanks to excellent treatment, including psychotherapy, she is. Saks now serves as a chaired professor of psychiatry, law and psychology at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Counseling provides us with a safe and professional place to face our emotions, lessen their power and help us break down the mental barriers in our minds.

The Chico State Counseling and Wellness Center, located in the Student Services Center offers free counseling to all students. They also offer a variety of other resources, including the Zen Den, a quiet room to relax and destress with massage chairs.

Everyone has issues. Seeking counseling doesn’t mean people are crazy, it means they are proactive.

Chico State Counseling and Wellness Center:

Location: Student Services Center, room 430

Contact: 530-898-6345

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Zen Den hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.