It's been 5 months and I still haven't received help
Since quarantine started in the middle of the spring semester last year, I've been struggling with my mental health a lot more than I have in the past. Last spring, I was finally adjusted to my new college town, making friends, and getting used to the course load of a full-time college student. Then COVID-19 hit. I got sent home, put into isolation in a place that had almost become unfamiliar to me by that time. I had to teach myself, my 6 classes, for the last 6 weeks of the semester while being practically locked inside my 10x10 bedroom. My mental health rapidly declined. I refused to get help at first, telling myself it was a few bad days. When those days turned into weeks, then months, I knew I needed to reach out for help. My university prides itself on the fact that they are here for us and give us access to free psychiatrists and counselors. Here's the catch though, you must be in the state of Kentucky in order to receive that free help. I am an out of state student, just like many of my friends that attend the University of Kentucky. So because of that, I was told to wait until I get back to Kentucky to get help. I could've found a counselor in my hometown but because of the cost of school, that wasn't a realistic possibility for me. After four long months of struggling, I was back in my college town and able to get help. I tried to make an appointment when I was at one of my lowest points with my mental health, and they told me I had to wait another month to speak to anyone. So, I waited again. Finally, I saw my school counselor and she told me that I showed signs of three mental illnesses but I had to get some tests done before I could continue to receive help. I had to wait another month to get those tests done.
I'm not suicidal but my mental health still matters
My university is constantly emailing us saying that they're here for us and if we are having suicidal thoughts then we can call a hotline that is linked to the university and speak with professionals. Well, I'm not suicidal, but I'm still struggling. Since I am not suicidal, I am told to wait. It's been 5 months and I am still waiting on the help I am constantly told I can get. Every day is a different struggle. I have some hard days and some really good days. On those extra hard days, I am lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends that are constantly reaching out to me, making sure I am okay. Not everyone has that.
We can't keep waiting
The second leading death in teens is suicide. Most college students don't even realize they have depression or anxiety because they believe those symptoms are just the average struggles of college. When a student is reaching out for help, they can't be expected to wait another 30 days. The majority of us are in debt in order to pay for our college, we can't afford to pay for a psychiatrist outside of our university. Mental health awareness month just passed and college universities were consistently telling us they are there for us but their actions speak louder than words. I know universities are taking active steps in helping students with mental health but having a month-long waiting period is doing close to nothing to students struggling. Universities need to continue to make efforts in improving their student health programs and putting their students first. Plus, it's the least they can do when we're paying thousands of dollars a year.