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University Counseling Service (UCS) Mental Health Newsletter -
April 2017
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Mental health difficulties do not discriminate across cultural backgrounds. There is potential for everyone in society to be impacted by mental health concerns even if the impact varies due to background. However, few individuals utilize needed services when it comes to seeking treatment from professionals such as a therapist.  In a recent article, Dr. Steven Hendlin alludes to the fact that drug therapy or medication is often the first line of treatment for many because of their views towards psychotherapy. Dr. Hendlin states that “Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy is an effective way to help people make positive changes in their lives without the need for medication. Among racial/ethnic minority populations (e.g., African American or Hispanic American), there is a higher lack of help-seeking. Broman (2012) notes that even after controlling for factors such as health insurance and socioeconomic status (SES) ethnic minority groups still have a higher unmet need than non-Hispanic Whites.”

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-race-good-health/201210/stigma-and-mental-health
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Infographic by Anna Matenaer

What Prevents People From
Seeking Mental Health Treatment?

  • People don’t hesitate telling acquaintances about a trip to their dentist or physician, but most stay quiet about their therapy appointment, because even though progress has been made, there’s still stigma attached to seeking therapy.
     
  • Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their symptoms because our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues over physical conditions.
  • Mental health problems are highly stigmatized universally. College students may worry about a “black mark” on their academic record.
     
  • They also worry that a mental health issue will be judged negatively by peers or faculty.
     
  • Many students don’t even know where to find counseling or psychiatric emergency services on campus, or if they are eligible for care.
     
  • Most students and parents have minimal knowledge about how and where to get help, such as how to get referrals on or off campus. 
For all these reasons far too few seek help.
 
To Decrease the stigma of mental illness, let’s normalize not stigmatize. Perhaps the greatest barrier to seeking help with an emotional or behavioral problem is the fear of being isolated or marginalized. One in four individuals will have a psychiatric disorder during the course of life.

With such a high prevalence of mental health problems we need to reframe emotional problems as a normal part of life, and not as a shameful blemish, a personal weakness or a character flaw. 

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-college-mental-health-crisis-focus-on-general_us_58bd93bce4b0ec3d5a6ba0ea; https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/14/what-prevents-people-from-seeking-mental-health-treatment/

Student Athletes and Mental Health Stigma


Crazy. Broken. Weak. These might be some of the words that come to mind when people think about going to counseling. They think it means that something is “wrong” with them; that they are lesser because they cannot do it on their own; that no one else has struggled as they are. For a student-athlete, these beliefs can be magnified. The perception (and expectation) of student-athletes is that they perform at a high level and are excelling at everything they do. When this is not achieved all the time (because they are human, after all!), a student-athlete might jump to the conclusion they are a failure. Student-athletes have the additional pressure of being in the public spotlight and subjected to outside opinions regarding their “worth” to the team.  Being under this microscope might cause them to wonder, “What would all of these people think if they knew I needed help?” These types of thoughts, beliefs, and fears can limit a student-athlete’s willingness to seek the help of a counselor or performance enhancement specialist. Framing the utilization of these services as a sign of strength and of building resilience can break down this stigma to help a student-athlete develop the skills and tools to reach their full potential as a person, as a student, and as an athlete.

Aubrette M. Kinne, Ph.D.
Staff Therapist, University of Iowa Athletics Department
WATCH: Glenn Close’s Plea For Openness to Fight
Mental Health Stigma

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What Does All This Mean For University of Iowa Students?


Many students will face issues and challenges in life. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to go face the things you are struggling with, the things you want to work on. Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from difficulties, and it is only developed during times of adversity. Reaching out for help in those times (either from your support system or from a counselor) and gaining the skills and tools to make it through those difficulties is building resilience. These skills and tools are not always taught in our academic classes or growing up. Sometimes counseling is the place where we can learn these skills. Seeking help through counseling not only can help you get through that adversity but it also can help you to grow and even excel. So we hope that when you think about counseling in the future, you think about these words instead: STRONG. COURAGEOUS. RESILIENT.  Remember, We Are Here For You.  How To Make An Appointment.

Aubrette M. Kinne, Ph.D.
Staff Therapist, University Counseling Service in the Department of Athletics
Copyright © 2017 The University Counseling Service (UCS), All rights reserved.


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