Prioritizing mental health is essential

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The month of September commemorates multiple mental health advocacy holidays.

With September being both self-care awareness month as well as suicide prevention
month, there are many ways in which individuals can promote and prioritize their mental

With the student housing crises both on and off campus at Florida A&M University, as
well as the controversies surrounding FAMU in the public eye, it is important to identify
and address the detrimental effects this may have on students.

Despite these setbacks, students are looking to get back on the right track with their
studies and put all of these events behind them. Shania Elliot, a third-year pre-
cardiopulmonary transfer student, shares this same narrative.

“The recent events have kind of put a distraction on everything going on at FAMU. It’s
kind of hard to not be occupied in it, or not be interested in what’s going on because
everybody’s talking about it and it’s on every social media platform,” she said.

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the American College Health
Association conducted a survey in 2015 and found that “college students identified the
following mental health issues as negatively impacting their academic performance
within the last 12 months: stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties and depression.”

These scenarios can become stressful for students as they try to navigate the new
school year, which can lead to a decline in motivation, performance and energy before
classes have even begun to pick up.

Aniya Hoggatt, a third-year business administration student, recounts a time when she
lost her drive in school. “We have to wake up every day and have the motivation to go
to these classes, school do our work,” Hoggatt said.

“If that motivation is gone because of our mental health we’re not going to do it … so
when we’re mentally incapable of doing that, then everything else falls downhill. It’s
kind of hard to get your grades back up once they’ve already fallen.”

Students have access to the FAMU Office of Counseling Services, the only accredited
HBCU counseling center in Florida. This center provides students with different forms of
counseling, including group or individual therapy, which some students have yet to use,
despite having self-diagnosed mental health conditions. Mental health may be on the
back burner due to other issues and the hassles of school, which can lead to consequences for others, campuses, communities, and the larger society according to
the SPRC.

There’s no doubt that college can be a rollercoaster of emotions for students. With all
that is happening on FAMU’s campus, conversations about the resources available are
essential. Utilizing these resources not only brings awareness to the support on
campus, but can also serve as interventions before a mental health crisis ensues.