Keeping the Mental Health Dialogue Going


There are many reasons why we need to continue the mental health dialogue. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Kelly Christ

The semester is drawing to a close. At this point, I want to reflect on the need to continue the dialogue about mental health by turning the spotlight on the Fordham University community itself. I posed a simple question to my fellow students: why is it important to have an open dialogue about mental health in college?

Samantha Wu, FCRH ‘22, responded, “It’s a huge part of the transition to college and for overall health.” This point is incredibly important, as the transition from high school to college often marks the first time that young adults are independent or away from their homes and families. Newfound independence often comes with loneliness, especially when trying to establish the first friendships in a sea of strangers. College students are surrounded by their peers and often develop an increased sense of self-consciousness and vulnerability.

“People struggle to find control and deal with their stress, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms that harm the brain and the body,” explained Margaret Whalen, FCRH ’21. During college, especially if you live on campus, there is high exposure to and pressure towards partaking in drugs and alcohol. In addition, the social environment often leads to unhealthy relationships and risky sexual behavior, as the “hook-up” culture is prominent on many campuses. Academic stress also hurts mental health. All of these factors can also contribute to sleep deprivation, which is “likely significantly associated with mental health problems in other domains,” according to Psychology Today.

Fostering an open dialogue about mental health helps to mitigate the negative impacts of these behaviors and help people reevaluate their motivations for taking part in them. As Whalen continues, “open dialogues will encourage people to manage stress in healthy ways that also ensure academic success and a positive university environment.”

Mental health issues are incredibly common among college students. One survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center directors found that “anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6%), followed by depression (36.4%) and relationship problems (35.8%).” Students must know that there is no shame in talking about mental or emotional struggles. This can only help.

Isabelle Kilbride, FCRH ’22, said, “Whether it ranges from slight stress or major depression, everyone is affected and there needs to be a safe place to speak and feel as though you have support.” Kilbride’s reminder that all mental health issues deserve attention is important. Receiving help, in any form, can lessen the future severity of the problems. Ignoring them will only make things worse, as we often blame ourselves for problems and neglect forgiving ourselves for simply being human.

As Nicholas Zaromatidis, GSB ’21, wrote, an open dialogue is needed. “Because what’s the alternative? Keeping your emotions bottled away?” he questioned. Doing so almost always aggravates the condition. By gaining support and learning that they are not alone, students can adopt coping mechanisms for the stress that college puts on them.

My mental health column this semester has taught me so much about the need for an open discussion in order to best work to improve the mental health of college students.

Seeing how many people are affected by mental health issues further proves this need. Mental health should be treated the same as physical health. If you break your leg and do not tell anyone, it will never get better. Mental health is no different. There need not be any shame towards admitting vulnerability.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, do not hesitate to contact the following resources:
Fordham University Counseling and Psychological Services (RH): 718-817-3725
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis Textline: text START to