Sac State offers resources for students struggling with mental health

Jacob Abbott

Student Health and Counseling Services provide Sacramento State students struggling with mental health concerns resources to break down the barriers and stigmas keeping them from their potential success.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which someone can cope with common stresses and live and work productively.

A study done in 2012 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicated one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness, and 40 percent of college students with diagnosable mental health conditions did not seek help.

The most common illnesses reported in the survey were depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia and ADHD.

SHCS is located in The Well, offering individual therapy, group therapy, urgent care counseling, workshops, trainings and Peer Health Educator internships. Students pay for these services each semester through tuition costs.

Counseling and Psychological Services, CAPS, are located on the second floor of The Well, and encourage students to use the resources they have already paid for.

The 11 licensed mental health professionals staffed by SHCS help students cope with stress or personal problems interfering with their academic life, as well as provide information on additional resources off-campus.

Ronald Lutz was hired as Clinical Director of CAPS in February after working at Texas A&M for 24 years. Lutz oversees the clinical staff of SHCS and acts as liaison for his staff, hunting down any resources they may need.

“Counseling has a lot to offer people in terms of optimal functioning,” Lutz said. “Learning how to work with your boundaries, learning how to do better in your interpersonal relationships, learning how to really learn and concentrate, there is a lot that health psychology and counseling can do to really help people live better.”

Lutz said, last year 9,727 Sac State students received services from the counseling department totaling 6 percent of the entire student body.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. They organize events in different communities across the country raising millions of dollars each year to support the foundation’s work.

Ryan Ayers, Northern California Area Director for AFSP, said detaching stigmas associated with mental health is the organization’s goal.

“I think stigma reduction is the single most important thing anyone in mental health addresses,” Ayers said. “The biggest roadblock to people seeking help is the idea they can’t talk to anyone around them about it, or that there is something wrong with them.”

AFSP coordinate yearly events in Sacramento. Supporters raise money from sponsors by walking up to five miles in community walks during the fall and campus walks during the spring.

Active Minds is a non-profit organization at Sac State that works with AFSP. The organization also provides outreach, promotes awareness campaigns, holds interactive workshops and presents to departments on campus about mental health challenges and stigmas.

Katie Hodgson, SHCS Case Manager, is a peer health educator working for Sac State’s chapter of the organization.

“They (Active Minds) table at campus-wide events like WELLCome Back and The Vagina Monologues, as well as host their own wellness events to promote stigma reduction around mental health,” Hodgson said.

To help students struggling with mental health challenges and stigmas, Active Minds holds a free “Working Out Your Stress” workshop every Tuesday and Thursday at The Cove on the first floor of The Well. Active Minds will also co-sponsor the “Out of the Darkness” campus walk with AFSP at Sac State next April.

“To get involved with SHCS, one thing students can do is join the Student Health Advisory Committee,” Hodgson said. “Also, students can become interns at SHCS by joining one of the Peer Health Educator groups in the department of Health & Wellness Promotion.”

Sac State’s Student Health Advisory Committee and Active Minds will be at an AFSP hosted walk to promote mental health awareness on the west steps of the Capitol on Saturday, Oct. 8. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and all proceeds will benefit local and national suicide prevention and awareness programs.

“This is a great way for people to come out and be supportive of the cause,” Ayers said. “If everybody was more open about mental health issues in our own lives, we would all realize that we have multiple people that are either suffering or have suffered something at some point.”