KSC needs to tend to accessibility of mental health support

With the seasons changing, the sun going down sooner, college students are getting hit with the tsunami that is seasonal depression. The Equinox thinks that we as students don’t need to drown in the wave, because there are things floating around to hang on to as the semester rolls to an end.

Keene State College (KSC) students, along with every other college student in the country, is turning the last corner of the semester making a B-line towards finals. But because of the winter season starting in the northeast, we’re seeing less sunshine, less outdoor activities, and a lot more stuck-inyour-room behavior starting to kick in.

Seasonal depression is something a lot of people experience and it’s not easy, nor is there one “cure.” The Equinox discussed how students can persevere through the cold and keep hope through the darker season.

On campus, there’s usually a small event every once in a while to help get students out to the Student Center quad and interact with their peers, participate in activities, and hopefully win some free trinkets. But with it being significantly colder in weather, outdoor activities have been put to a halt until the spring. The Equinox thinks that hosting more indoor, COVID-19 safe events would benefit the students struggling to get out of their room who don’t wish to bear the cold. We suggest more indoor dorm activities amongst community assistants and their residents like floor bonding activities, game nights, crafting times and even a basic movie night so KSC residents can have some fun without being cooped up.

At KSC there’s a program called the Concerned Awareness Response Support aka CARES. This program allows faculty and students to file reports about individuals who may be struggling and need further support through their academics or personal life. But through personal anecdotes reported to The Equinox, we have to push the CARES program to be taken more seriously. When people are going out of their way to make sure someone can get further support, there obviously is something that needs to be taken seriously, and it should be a program better advertised to the students, faculty and staff as a resource if they feel their support isn’t enough. KSC should consider altering their reactive plans to be proactive, making sure they can get ahead of counseling surges and mental health services on campus.

The Wellness Center on campus does offer counseling to individuals who seek out support, but it’s understood that they are tightly booked and sometimes have very long waiting lists to get an appointment with a counselor. If KSC is seeing an influx in students seeking support, The Equinox thinks the school should outsource or team up with parts of the community that they can send students to. We understand that there is never unlimited time to get people in the Wellness Center schedule, but if there are other outside sources like group counseling that students can lean on, we as a campus could see a boost in morale.

In the spring 2021 semester, KSC implemented “Hootie Days” during the week. They cancel all classes and give the students a break. The Equinox reflects on those days as a student body wide sigh of relief. The feeling of waking up on a random Wednesday and not having any classes was something that positively affected the students. A big boost of morale came the next day as a result of the brief break. But looking back, a lot of students still had professors and instructors assigning work to their classes to make up for “lost time.” But if the college was really trying to give students a mental health day, they would ensure no new assignments would be given to students on those days. Hootie Days were something students would look forward to and rely on to let them destress from life. The Equinox thinks a proper day or two off, “Hootie Days”, should be reintroduced to the academic schedule, especially with seasonal depression taking a major toll on students.

The Equinox recognizes there is never going to be one solution to seasonal depression or any other mental struggle students may face. We also understand that just getting up, getting out and interacting with your peers isn’t always on the table for those struggling with depression or anxiety. But, sticking together as a community is crucial to getting through the grey and cold time of year, because the glum weather doesn’t have to dictate a glum semester.

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