Students, take advantage of FIU’s mental health services

Belen Sassone/ Contributing Writer

Starting college comes with a great deal of stress. Although making new friends and trying different things can be exciting, leaving the high school bubble can be hard for anyone, no matter how badly they hated it or how much they wanted to leave.

When you’re in college, you’re placed in a brand new world where you’re responsible for balancing a number of things ranging from work, classes, club involvements and a social life. Suddenly, it feels like you have to make decisions about the rest of your life, which leads to how successful you’ll be.

Everyone reacts to these changes differently. The state of being overwhelmed and stressed out can leave students feeling helpless, causing everything to feel like it’s spiraling out of control. Although it’s not the case for everyone, many students turn to self-harm or suicide as a way to alleviate the pressure.

“More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all other medical illnesses combined,” according to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.

In total, there are an average of 42,773 suicides in the U.S. every year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people in the 15-34 age range.

Although suicidal thoughts, attempts and other mental health issues need to be treated extensively, FIU has a variety of resources available for students who need to reach out for help. The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) department offers individual and group counseling, victim services and a body acceptance program, among other things.

When a student seeks help through CAPS, fees are usually already covered by the health fee in their tuition. This means that if they need someone to talk to, they can walk into the office, located at the Student Health Center, during consultation hours and a psychologist will be able to help them.

On their website, they also allow students to take a free mental health screening because they believe that “brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional—they are a checkup from your neck up.”

After a series of questions, you are taken to a results page which explains whether or not your responses link up with any mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. However, it’s made clear that you cannot be diagnosed solely based on these results. If your responses do link up with a mental health issue, it is recommended for you to seek help.

At the center, there is a software program called Heartmath that aims to curb stress and anxiety through a series of breathing exercises. Coordinator of outreach & educational media, Wendy Ordonez, said that there are copious ways to handle stress.

“If you find yourself stressed, we recommend that you listen to your body, identify the cause of your stress, journal your reactions to stress, engage in healthy coping strategies, such as exercising or engaging in an enjoyable hobby, accept stress as a normal part of life, and reach out to people whom you can trust, like friends, family or a CAPS counselor,” Ordonez said.

If a student is found to need further counseling, Ordonez says that, “CAPS will either provide short term therapy for the student or will refer them out to affordable/free resources in the community according to their ailment.”

Although mental health is probably not the first thing people think about when they start college, it’s the most important thing to be take care of in order for everything to be in balance. There’s no shame in reaching out for help, and it doesn’t make someone weak or inferior. The stigma against speaking out needs to be eliminated, and more students should be encouraged to take a step back if necessary and speak up about the problems they may be facing.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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