We Need Minority Counselors On College Campuses

We Need Minority Counselors On College Campuses

We don't have the same resources or support as white and straight individuals have.

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Yes, I know. People are capable of connecting with one another regardless of race, gender, and sexuality. And yes, mental health issues are universal.

However, here's the thing about mental health among the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color- we don't have the same resources or support as white and straight individuals have. More importantly, our marginalized identities often contribute to the mental health issues we might have- at worst within our own families and communities, we are unable to find the help we need. This isn't to say that white and straight individuals don't suffer just as much from mental illnesses on college campuses, but based on the stories I've heard from other POC and queer students about the counseling center and based on my very limited experience there during my first year, the counseling center often fails to address these issues effectively, leaving the student to look to other students for support. Or even worse, the counselors there have only further isolated the very students they are trying to help whether this is by denying the issues of identity that might be affecting the student or even by attributing every problem a student of a marginalized group to their identity. I remember when I interviewed a counselor at the Counseling Office, when I asked her (a white woman by the way) about issues of diversity and identity in relation to mental health, she was struggling. To be more exact, she had no clue what she was talking about.

So what can be done to make this better?

One. Make the counselors (especially the white and straight ones) take diversity courses.

Two. Hire more POC and LGBTQ+ counselors. Not only do they have a more nuanced understanding of race and sexuality, but they would make students of these marginalized identities much more comfortable.

As individuals of non-majority identities, they can better understand the experiences of a queer students or/and a student of color because they too have probably had that experience. White/straight counselors may be able to sympathize to a certain degree, but when it comes to issues of, for example, homophobia or racism, it takes a target of one to understand one.

I'm not saying that people of different races and gender and sexual orientation can't relate to one another. But more importantly, there is something comforting revealing the most intimate parts of yourself to someone who looks like you. Someone who might be able to relate to you experience-wise and even culturally. People might say that they want different types of friends, but really, at the end of the day, the people closest to you tend to look similar to you. That's not a bad thing- it's just what you're used to.

At least that is what I have found. Today, I just came back from a retreat- during it, at one point, I had a pseudo-counseling session (they called it a Sacred Listener session) with a POC grad student. I believe he was South Asian. Still, that was probably the first counseling session that I felt actually better afterwards. I felt…lighter. A little better, which is the goal of counselors in the first place.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Anxiety Medications Aren't As Scary As You Might Think

It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

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Before my journey with anxiety, I was very anti-medication. I truly didn't understand the purpose or need for it. Boy, have I learned a lot since then. Upon visiting the doctor, I learned that there are two types of medication that do two different things to the neurotransmitters in your brain. These are categorized as SSRI or SNRI. According to anxiety.org, "SSRIs increase serotonin in the brain. Neural systems affected by increased serotonin regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and digestion."

The medication that I am currently taking falls under the category of SSRI. As a result of taking this medication, "your brain is more capable of making changes that will lead to a decrease in anxiety" (anxiety.org). I don't know if that sounds nice to you, but I loved the sound of it.

On the other hand, per mayoclinic.org, SNRIs "ease depression by impacting chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells. Like most antidepressants, SNRIs work by ultimately effecting changes in brain chemistry and communication in brain nerve cell circuitry known to regulate mood, to help relieve depression."

From my understanding, the different types of medication focus on different neurotransmitters in your brain. I don't think that one of these is "bad" and one of these is "good." This is simply because anxiety and depression are very personal and impact people differently. My anxiety is not the same as my friend's anxiety. I think it's more of a spectrum.

There are a lot of misconceptions upon starting medication. I think the first is that it works instantly. I have some bad news and it's that some medications take up to a month to get into your system. I mean, you're chemically altering your brain, so it makes sense. It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

Another misconception is that the pills are addicting- making them completely unnecessary or dangerous. That wasn't true for me. One of my dear friends told me that if you don't feel guilty for taking cold medicine when you have a cold, then you shouldn't feel guilty for taking medication that helps your anxiety. I think this really does boil down to knowing yourself and if there's a history of addiction in your family. However, as someone who's taken the heavy pain killers (via surgery) and now takes anxiety medication, I can testify to say that there's a difference.

The pain killers made me a zombie. The anxiety medication allows me to be the best version of myself. I like who I am when I'm not constantly worried about EVERYTHING. I used to not leave the house without makeup on because I constantly worried what people thought of me. I used to be terrified that my friends didn't want me around. I used to overthink every single decision that I made. Now, none of that is happening. I enjoy my friends and their company, I hardly wear makeup, and I'm getting better at making decisions.

Do I want to be able to thrive without having to correct my neurotransmitters? Sure. However, this is the way that I am, and I wouldn't have gotten better without both therapy and medication. I'm forever grateful for both.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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