By Deb Bovee

For The Recorder

Young adulthood is supposed to be an opportunity for growth and to build one’s future. Many college students, however, feel unprepared, overwhelmed, and intense change.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Jed Foundation (Aug. 31, 2016) have reported that 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin prior to age 24, making college an important time to reach out and seek assistance. When facing a mental illness, college students should know they are not alone and symptoms are very treatable; all it takes is one person to change someone’s life by reaching out.

It has been reported that 60 percent of first-year college students wish they were better prepared emotionally for the transition out of high school.  More than half of all college students experienced overwhelming anxiety, and 37 percent reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function (Jed Foundation 2017 Annual Report).

Fulton-Montgomery Community College has formed a partnership with St. Mary’s Healthcare to provide full time mental health counseling at the college in an attempt to meet this need.  The mental health counselor is located in the Student Development Center.

How do I help a friend who might be depressed or having some mental health symptoms? If you are asking yourself this question, then you have probably observed something about your friend that has changed or is concerning. The most important thing you can do is to care about your friend and make sure your friend knows they are not alone.  You can ask them if they are alright because you are following your instincts and it will convey that you are available if and when they need you.

What might you observe if someone is depressed or having symptoms of anxiety? There might be a change in how they take care of themselves or their daily routine. They may appear sad or discouraged.  Sometimes people who are depressed seem more anxious or irritable. A person can overreact at times or seem overly emotional. They can get angry or seem offended more easily. They may have little or no interest in doing any of the things they once enjoyed and prefer to be alone. You may notice they are having more difficulty concentrating, may be more forgetful or can’t seem to make decisions.  Your friend might have difficulty getting to class, studying and show no interest in social media anymore. If they are interested in social media, what they are posting has changed and may seem more negative. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health symptoms adults may experience.  In these cases, a person may feel overwhelming anxiety to the point it is uncomfortable; it’s having a negative impact on their daily functioning.

There are many local and web based resources available. F-MCC students can seek a mental health counselor in the Student Development Center or any of the following web based resources: www.Jedfoundation.org, www.Settogo.org,  www.halfofus.com,  www.NAIMI.org or  www.ULifeline.org.  Through the partnership of St. Mary’s Healthcare and Fulton-Montgomery Community College we can promote mental health awareness and recovery.

Deb Bovee is mental health counselor at F-MCC.