Photo by Julia Kelley

Mental health is a growing concern in today's society, especially on college campuses. Thirty-nine percent of students in college experience a significant mental health issue, yet only two out of three students with anxiety or depression seek treatment, according to Active Minds. College students that are struggling with their mental health have a tendency to turn to their peers before they turn to counseling and treatment. Many students are afraid to talk with a counselor, and sometimes even their friends about their struggles due to the heavy stigma on mental health. Acknowledging that mental health is impacting people across the world, it is an often difficult conversation that has to come up sometimes. With an accepting community like Otterbein, people are more likely to feel comfortable talking about mental health.

Santino DiSabato, public relations & health communications double major, was able to spend the spring semester of 2019 working with four classmates on a campaign called "Change the Conversation." This campaign helped to break the mental health stigma on campus by having students sign a banner, promising not to use someone's mental health condition to label them.  The idea is that people are not defined by their mental health condition, and if people understand that, then struggling individuals will be more likely to seek treatment.

"We found that education is the best way to break the mental health stigma. Without proper education on the subject, people will not understand their logical flaws when it pertains to how they address mental health conditions," DiSabato said. 

There are many resources on campus available to students. Otterbein has had the Counseling Center, located at 146 W. Home St., since 2015. Their bookkeeping shows 12% of the undergraduate population has taken advantage of its resources, and this number is growing, with a 40% increase in student participation since opening in its fourth year. Confidentiality is often of concern to students when considering counseling. Anything you may tell a counselor or the Chaplin is 100% confidential, and no reports are necessary as long as you do not pose a threat to yourself or anyone else. The Otterbein student life fee pays for several free counseling sessions, and the Counseling Center works with students from there on a case-to-case basis to decide if continued counseling/treatment is necessary. 

          

Other resources are also available at Otterbein to meet the needs of each and every student, like the Academic Support Center (ASC), located in the second floor of the library and the Women's, Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (WGSRC), located at 25 W. Home St.