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It’s time to stop the stigma of seeking help

Madison Holleran came across to her friends on social media as a cheerful track star for the University of Pennsylvania. But beneath what she posted, she was struggling with something that affects a large number of college students. Holleran was stressed and overwhelmed beyond belief throughout her first year at UPenn, ultimately causing her to become so depressed that she tragically committed suicide in January of 2014. What Holleran’s case shows is that individuals tend to hide their inner struggles by creating a façade of happiness on social media. This is becoming the norm on campuses as more and more students are afraid of coming out as having a mental illness and not receiving the proper means of treatment for it. Colleges across the nation typically have services for students battling different types of mental illnesses. Here at Seton Hall, students have the opportunity to use the resources from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) when they feel that they need someone else to help them with whatever issue they’re having regarding their mental health. Walking into a place such as CAPS and setting up an appointment sounds simple enough, but it’s not always that easy. In the spring 2015 results of the American College Health Association’s National College Assessment, 81.2 percent of college students polled did not seek out any type of help from their university’s counseling or mental health services. Yet, 34.5 percent answered yes to feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function and 56.9 percent answered yes to feeling overwhelming anxiety. So the question is, if so many students are feeling this way, why aren’t more getting help? Being embarrassed by one’s own emotional well-being and the stigma attached to mental health could be a part of this problem. I know first-hand just how hard it can be to seek out help and not be shamed for it. During my junior year of high school, I missed almost six months of school due to being hospitalized for severe depression and multiple anxiety disorders. I was indeed stubborn and put up a fight at first, but I’ve now realized how great it was to admit that I needed to get help. When I was in the hospital, many people told me how good it was to decide I needed help at that time because I would be more equipped to take on the problems I would face as I got older. I didn’t understand this for the longest time. I didn’t want to be where I was or feel the way I did at any other point in my life, why should I have been grateful it was happening in the first place? But now that I’m in my second year of college, I know why I should’ve been grateful that everything fell apart when it did and I spoke up and admitted I wanted to get help when I did. Now when things in my life start to fall apart, I know how to handle it, and I can help my friends when they are going through similar issues. I just hope that more students can realize its OK to fall down and ask for help to get back up. Olivia Mulvihill is a sophomore journalism major from Allentown, Pennsylvania. She can be reached at


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