In 2009, 1100 college students across the country committed suicide. COC’s clinical psychologists Frances Willson and Larry Rescendez, along with national mental health organization Active Minds, are working hard to bring that number to zero.
Students at College of the Canyons are entitled to six free mental health sessions with one of the two clinical psychologists on campus. Sessions run around 45 to 50 minutes and all information is kept confidential.
According to a survey conducted last year on campus, students of COC were asked what they felt was the most important issue facing the student campus today. 84 out of 100 students asked in the survey claimed stress.
“You expect a certain amount of stress in an academic situation, but when that stress interferes with performance, that’s when it’s time to probably speak with a professional,” Willson said.
In addition, students were asked what mental and physical issues they felt personally affected them. Of the 100 students, 62 percent said they suffered from stress and anxiety, 40 percent said they suffered from depression, 34 percent had relationship problems, 31 percent claimed sleep disorders and 20 percent were suffering from drug and alcohol related issues. 28 out of 100 also reported untreated psychiatric illness.
Last year, COC became a member of the nationwide student support group Active Minds. The group was founded in 2001 by Allison Malmon, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. She started the club following the suicide of her older brother who had been a senior in college a year earlier.
He suffered from depression and psychosis for three years and hid his problems from everyone around him. The death of her brother made Alison take notice to the fact that very few students on campus talked about mental health issues even though many were affected. She decided to do what she could to encourage students who needed help to seek it earlier in order to prevent tragedies like the one she experienced from occurring.
According to Willson, she discovered Active Minds on the internet a couple of years ago, and at that time there were only two clubs in the Los Angeles area, one at ULCA and the other at Occidental college.
“No community colleges belonged at all, so we took a year to find out more about it and establish ourselves as a club, Willson said. “This club is designed to have a place where students educate other students about various mental health issues.”
To find out more information about Active Minds on the COC campus or to schedule an appointment with a mental health counselor, contact the Student Health and Wellness center at 661-362-3259 or email Frances Willson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also visit www.activeminds.org for more information on the program.