Students and faculty gathered at the “Reconnect & Restore” Mental Health Summit at the Russell House Ballroom Thursday morning to encourage awareness and help reduce stigmas behind mental health inside and outside of USC.
"We selected the theme of 'Reconnect & Restore' ... to acknowledge the amount of loss and change that many of us have experienced," Scott said.
Student speakers along with faculty gave their perspectives on mental health, and how the USC community should move forward.
"It can affect anybody, whether they seem to be the most happy person that you've ever met — we all are dealing with different things," Dr. Jason Stacy, interim vice president of health and well-being, said.
Colleges all over the U.S. are having a mental health crisis, said April Scott, associate director of mental health initiatives at USC.
The crisis was revealed in the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment in 2021. The assessment had students answer several different questions regarding their mood and well-being within the past 30 days. The study showed about 56.4% of USC students “felt so sad that nothing could cheer them up," according to the National College Health Assessment.
Scott, who spoke at the summit, said USC has plenty of mental health resources on USC’s campus to combat these feelings. These include workshops, appointments and online services that many students don't know about.
"The goal today is to have conversations that acknowledge what students are experiencing... and (provide) information about resources on campus and in the community," Scott said.
Students can schedule appointments with campus Counseling and Psychiatry Services by scheduling an appointment through MyHealthSpace or by calling (803) 777-5223. Walk-in and same-day appointments are available, and 10 free counseling sessions are allowed during each academic year.
Counseling and Psychiatry Services also added a counseling program through their department called 'Christie' that connects students with off-campus counseling as well — all for free.
Maia Porzio, Student Body Vice President, said that many students aren't aware of USC's provided mental health services.
"(Student Government is) trying to get that feedback ... in hopes that we can make some tangible improvements to help students get the care that they are looking for," Porzio said.
Students can help other students by looking out for signs of suicidality: being at risk for suicide.
The way a person talks and behaves along with their mood can show signs of suicidality, but so can things like substance abuse, Emily Collie, Gamecock Recovery Graduate Assistant, said. Looking for these warning signs can save a person's life. By opening the conversation, students can learn how to check in on and take care of themselves.
"Something to know is that research has really shown that verbal storytelling plays a really crucial role in suicide prevention by reducing the stigma of discussing challenges we all face with our mental health," Ella Wolske, a mental health ambassador, said.
The mental health ambassadors promote suicide prevention on campus and reduce the stigma of mental health.
The mental health ambassadors described parts of their stories and why mental health is important to them. One student said she had a friend help her find a therapist, which changed her outlook on life.
"It's really beneficial just to talk about my life, to just have someone to talk to and not feel like I'm burdening someone," Wolske said.
For more information on USC's mental health services visit https://sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/health_services/medical-services/counseling-and-psychiatry/index.php
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the suicide hotline at 988