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Breakdown on Mental Health

By Christian Pridemore
On February 11, 2016


In a college setting, students often overlook their mental health in trying to keep up with the stress of grades, peers, and their future careers, and Concord University is no exception. According to an article by, mental illnesses which are most likely to afflict college students include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance addiction, and suicide. In the same article, it says that research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on mental health of colleges shows that 80% of students will not seek help for their mental problems, for one reason or another. Eric Lopez, a graduate student who currently works in the Counseling Center on campus, is offering a solution.

    The Mental Health Support Group is a relatively new organization on campus, which started in October of 2015. The group helps students by using a non-disclosure agreement to create a safe environment for them to discuss problems with their mental health, whether they have been diagnosed or feel like they may be afflicted with a mental illness. Lopez said “In my studies, I noticed that there was a lot of research done on students who had mental illness but didn’t have anywhere to go, especially in rural areas such as Appalachia. So my goal was to create this group in hopes to bring students together, but also to offer support and any kind of counseling help we could offer them.” Lopez says that he does have a general goal for the group itself in trying to bring a better understanding of what mental illness is and trying to get rid of the social stigmas and negative connotations associated with having a mental illness. He also says that the ultimate goal actually ends up being decided by the group members. In this sense, the group works to show students on campus that they aren’t alone in trying to cope with whatever mental illness is ailing them.

    “We do not diagnose. The goal of this is not to diagnose.” Lopez said bluntly. While not being prejudiced towards people who deal with mental illnesses, Lopez still wishes to make the distinction between what is and what is not a mental illness, and furthermore says that this group is not a means by which to gossip but to help people get better. If you feel like you may be afflicted with a mental illness, Lopez recommends seeing a doctor for a professional diagnosis before receiving any kind of medical treatment. “Even if you think you’re suffering, and you haven’t had an official diagnosis, you’re still welcome here.”

    Lopez says that any and all students are welcome. “I didn’t start this with the idea of just helping the 18-22 year olds…I’m not looking for a general student, I’m looking for any student.” Students that have trouble with anything, be it addiction, stress, veterans or non-traditional students that might have trouble fitting in, are especially invited to come join the group.

    Lopez especially wishes to address the students of Concord, saying, “If you know someone who has a mental illness or you think needs help, you can refer them to this group or the counseling center or talk to a professor. Don’t just stay silent about it, because there are people who suffer in silence who need help. Encourage them to seek treatment so that they know they are not alone.”

    The Mental Health Support Group meets every Wednesday on the third floor of the Student Center from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM in the AB Conference Room, and from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the Alumni Lounge. If you or someone you know ever needs a safe space to discuss issues about mental health, the Mental Health Support Group is here to help.

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