Mental Health Awareness Week is recognized annually in October, and during that same week, CSP hosted its Health and Wellness Fair on campus to bring awareness to the resources available for students to support their physical and mental health. CSP student Taylor Latvaaho is a senior public relations major who was in attendance and took the opportunity to share her own experience and journey with her mental health. Her story and valuable resources for CSP students to bookmark are listed below.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illness, and I am one of them.
I am currently a senior and a public relations major at Concordia St. Paul. I have struggled with mental illness most of my life. Now, at 24 years old, I can finally speak openly about this subject that has significantly impacted my life. For many years I was in denial, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was part of this statistic, and I was scared because mental illness runs in my family. Knowing that I couldn’t control this terrified me, and as I kept on pushing off getting help, my life continued falling around me.
I shut myself off from the world, and I became a very angry person. I hated myself because I felt like I was broken. I hurt the people closest to me because of the anger that filled my body. I was losing all of my strength. I just wanted to give up. I continued school, but I only could handle part-time because I didn’t have the skills to handle a full load. I did well, but I lacked confidence in myself, which made things very difficult. For years I was in this fog, and I couldn’t see the light, I was so lost. Finally, I decided to get myself help, because if I didn’t, I was going to end up dead. I voluntarily checked myself into the hospital, which saved my life. Even there, I was still in denial and I didn’t want to hear what the doctors were telling me. I eventually started seeing a therapist that changed my life and pushed me. If it weren’t for her and the support of my family, friends, and my boyfriend, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
I ended up taking a gap year to figure out what I needed, and I eventually was accepted to CSP on an academic scholarship. Since I’ve been here I’ve had my struggles with mental health, but the one thing that helped me continue my studies was my professors. I told them what I was dealing with and they helped me. They made me feel wanted and they truly cared, which was something I didn’t receive in grade school. If it weren’t for them I probably wouldn’t have come back this semester, but I did because they believed in me and I received the help I needed.
One professor that has truly made an impact on me is Nancy Harrower. Nancy is a breast cancer survivor and one of the most influential individuals I’ve ever met. She is upfront about the issues she has faced with her health issues and how it is taken a toll on her mental health. She pushes against the stigma surrounding mental health and encourages her students not to be ashamed of the things that they can’t control. I am truly grateful for her and I wouldn’t be where I am without her.
As a new student, I didn’t know anyone which wasn’t easy. It was hard for me to make friends and I felt lonely at times. Not only was I having issues with my mental health, but my physical health as well. I was always sick which impacted me negatively. I didn’t have any energy to take care of myself which affected my confidence in my academics. Almost every week, I would talk to Nancy about how I was doing which made things easier. I’ve always been too hard on myself and she sensed that she pushed me not to give up. She has significantly impacted my life and gave me the strength to move forward in my schooling.
My mental illness is not cured, but through the help of mental health professionals, I will continue building the skills I need to live a healthy and meaningful life, as can you.
I’m writing this because I want people to speak up, not be ashamed, and get the help they need.
Talk to your professors, coaches, friends, family, and school counselors. Remember that everyone needs help, and you don’t need to be in it alone, even if you feel lonely right now. Please remember that you are cared for, loved, and you are one of God’s creations.
Going off to college isn’t easy with new experiences and challenges, but you don’t have to feel defeated. CSP offers resources to better the lives of its students and there are resources in the surrounding community. There are even free therapists out there in the metro. These resources can help improve your health and wellness.
Below, I’ve included some of the resources and groups available to CSP students to support their mental and physical health and were featured at the Health and Wellness Fair. Please check them out.
- CSP Ministry
- Student Accessibility Services (SAS)
- Active Minds
- Check out Comet’s Connection for on-campus support groups
- Concordia Activities Board (CAB)
- Comet’s Cupboard
- CSP Writing Center
- CSP Intramurals
- CSP Kinesiology (KHS) Club
- Canine Connections
- Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH)
- Mental Health Urgent Care
- Walk-in counseling centers near campus
- Mississippi Market
- Dentists of Highland Park
- Metro Dental
- American Heart Association
- St. Paul Midway YMCA
- Metro Transit – College Pass Resources
- Thrivent Financial
- SOS – Sexual Violence Services
- The Emily Program
- Calvary Church – Roseville campus