UW offers a wide variety of free mental health resources for students The Badger Herald

College students are dealing with increased rates of mental health issues during the pandemic, according to a recent study by the American University Health Association.

Students reported increased psychological stress and loneliness, and 1 in 4 had considered suicide, the study found.

Another recent study by BMC Psychology confirmed this trend, adding that the pandemic has worsened mental health by straining family relationships, increasing health-related anxiety and affecting students’ ability to perform well in school.

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University of Wisconsin students are no exception to these trends, said UW Professor Dr. Richard Davidson, who has a joint position in the departments of psychology and psychiatry.

The uncertainty of the pandemic, coupled with reduced social contact and peer interaction during the lockdown, has led students to feel more anxious and depressed than before, Davidson said.

“With regard to students in particular, the challenges have been particularly acute because a fundamental aspect of university life is community, and there have been dramatic disruptions in the ability to form community during COVID,” Davidson said. .

With high vaccination rates and a robust COVID-19 protocol, UW was able to provide more in-person opportunities for students in the 2021-22 school year, according to the UW COVID-19 Response website. .

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It could allow for a greater sense of community, but post-lockdown many students are struggling to transition from online to in-person instruction this semester, Davidson said. For many UW students, returning to in-person activities has been stressful and overwhelming, contributing to high rates of mental health issues, according to Davidson.

To combat these problems, University Health Services provides mental health resources to students, according to the UHS website.

“UHS is awesome,” said a UW sophomore who chose to remain anonymous.

They began meeting with their mental provider halfway through their first semester at UW and have continued to meet with the same provider since then, enjoying the relationship they formed.

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UHS offers individual counseling, group counseling, psychiatric care, 24-hour crisis lines, and specific services for marginalized groups like gay students and students of color. These services are confidential and free or inexpensive for UW students, which is crucial for many students, the second said.

“It’s great that there is no cost for the services,” they said. “I’m already under financial pressure and I don’t want to have to go through any more stress for a service that I need.”

In addition to the services provided by UHS, many student organizations at UW are dedicated to supporting students with mental health issues, according to the Wisconsin Participation Network.

Ask. Listen. Record. is one such student organization, running mental health awareness programs and providing suicide prevention resources to students on the UW campus, according to the organization’s website. Additionally, the group places a high priority on equality and strives to connect students from marginalized communities to resources specific to their needs.

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“If there are any gaps in the resources we provide, we are more than willing to fill them and will work with students to find the resources that are best for them,” Ask.Listen.Save said in a statement. via email to The Badger. Herald.

To supplement UW’s on-campus mental health resources, Davidson suggested taking advantage of the variety of online resources available to students.

For example, UHS offers Silvercloud, a self-guided mental health app designed to help students develop cognitive-behavioral skills, according to UHS. website.

Similarly, Davidson encourages students to download his free Application of the Healthy Minds program, which he helped develop. The app offers quick podcast-style lessons, as well as interactive ways to practice mental wellness skills, according to the app’s website.

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“Even five minutes makes a big difference, walking, moving or exercising,” Davidson said.

Although the pandemic has increased the prevalence of mental health issues among college students, there’s a silver lining — it’s also facilitated open conversations about mental health, Ask.Listen.Save said.

By having such conversations, people can become more aware of their mental well-being and more confident to ask for help when they need it, Ask.Listen.Save said.

Gradually, the stigma surrounding mental health is fading, both on the UW campus and around the world, Davidson said.

But there’s still work to be done in that regard, Davidson said. As winter approaches and the pandemic continues, it’s important to remember that no one is alone in their struggles with mental health, he said.

“If we’re all honest with ourselves, we’re all hurting,” Davidson said. “Some people more than others, but we all suffer. But when we can have that self-transcending purpose, it’s an elixir of well-being.

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