Mental Health: What You Didn't Know USC Had to Offer

The opening of the new Center for Health and Wellness showcased the greater emphasis that USC is placing on improving the health and wellness of students. USC has really increased the number of programs related to mental health and wellness in recent years, with the expansion of the Healthy Carolina initiative that focuses on raising awareness for health issues that college students are dealing with, most notably stress-related. The center now offers a very wide array of programs that are free or very inexpensive for students looking to address mental health concerns. These resources range from mindfulness yoga to counseling to cooking classes designed to help deal with stress. Hayden, a junior at USC, says, "I constantly feel relieved that there's support for any of my health needs, whether it relates to stress management, nutrition, women's services, or general wellness. It's always a welcoming environment and the people who work there are so kind and helpful." 

It has become clear that mental health issues on college campuses are prevalent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 15-34. The transition from high school to college, and then from college into real life, can be a time of feeling overwhelmed or lost. In a sample of 1462 USC students, approximately 45 percent reported their overall level of stress within the last 12 months to be above average. Though issues with stress and anxiety are fairly common, there tends to be a stigma around seeking help. The Healthy Carolina initiative seeks to eliminate this stigma and normalize finding help through their variety of programs. 

For people with more serious needs, such as those with major depression or severe anxiety, the student health center offers one-on-one counseling, group therapy sessions, and access to psychiatrists as well. They also offer stress management appointments wherein a counselor helps students with their anxiety and managing their workload. If meeting face-to-face to discuss issues isn't something you're comfortable with, there are online therapy modules called TAO (therapist assisted online) that you can sign up for. 

The center also focuses heavily on improving self-care habits. They have a 28-day self-care challenge that lists 28 easy things you can do to improve your mental well-being. Included are activities like organizing your workspace or taking deep breaths, because even small changes can make a great difference. There are free yoga and meditation sessions available as well. Meditation groups are available every weekday, and yoga classes are every Monday and Friday. They are completely judgement free. There are also cooking classes that focus on self-care, with different themes such as foods you can prepare in advance for a busy week. 

Many events also focus on body positivity, which is important because NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) reported that nearly 20 percent of college students they surveyed have once experienced an eating disorder. The Body Project focuses on developing self-love and learning how to treat your body right without going on restricting diets or over-exercising. There are other options available specifically for those in the process of recovering, such as counseling groups or recovery meditations. 

Special events are held throughout the year. March offered events such as a mental health related comic con that relays the benefits that gaming has on mental health. There wass also a women's self-defense class that will be offered where women can be taught ways to protect themselves against sexual assault. An event focusing on masculinity and the importance of consent was also scheduled this past March. 

The student health center's website is very easily navigable and can be found at https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/mentalhealth/. To get more information about counseling or to schedule an appointment, you can call 803-777-5233. Each student has up to 10 sessions at no charge per year. The new center for health and wellness is located right across from Russell on the back patio, and the address is 1401 Devine St., where the hours are 8-6:30 Monday-Thursday and 8-5 on Fridays. You can find schedules for events and more information here as well. A calendar featuring upcoming events and sign-ups can be found at: https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/events/

Having a mental illness is not something to be ashamed about, and you are not alone. There are so many people who care for you, and many resources that can help you start to manage your mental illness.

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