Back-to-school means back to stress for millions of students across the country. However, at Ramapo, the Wellness Coalition and the Center for Health and Counseling Services made sure to share the importance of students’ mental health by hosting a Wellness Wednesday event in the Fishbowl.
The event offered mental health screenings that the counselors scored and then discussed individually with students. The screening looked for signs of depression, mood disorders and anxiety. They also gave out #rcnjfightthestigma T-shirts, a campus wide campaign to fight the stigma around mental illnesses.
Students were also given wellness kits that included tea “to remind you of all the warmth in your life,” a coloring sheet “to remind you to have fun and relax sometimes,” bubbles “to remind you of life’s iridescent beauty” and chocolate “to remind you of all the sweetness in your life.”
However, this was only a sneak peek of the larger Wellness Wednesday in the works for later on in the semester.
“At last year’s, in the fall, we had an eyebrow threader and someone doing manicures and ‘stress less’ sorts of things,” said Tara Sager, a psychological counselor at the Center for Health and Counseling Services.
Most students who take the screening do not test high enough on any of the sections to raise concern from the counselors, but Sager explained that after each event the students who did test high do come back for help.
“Our number one and number two are anxiety and depression and that’s pretty much across the board at all colleges,” said Sager. “It’s an age where that tends to pop up and it’s also a stressful time adjusting to college, going to college and being away from home.”
According to the American Psychological Association, “anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent).”
Sager and the other counselors then work with those students to increase their well-being and self-care.
“We have a part-time psychiatrist so if people need medication, they can see her. We do once weekly therapy; we also have therapy groups,” said Sager.
Sophomore Abby Tremonte was one of the students who took the opportunity to be screened and talk to one of the counselors.
“It was really helpful,” Tremonte said. “It was really nice to have someone to talk to.”
By talking to students and encouraging discussion around mental illness, the Center for Health and Counseling Services is helping to fight the stigma surrounding things like depression and anxiety.
“We talk about self-care strategies and how students can be helping themselves,” said Sager. “That is the ultimate goal, for students to be able to not need us and be able to help themselves through things.”