photo of the Counceling Center

Photo by Luke Young

The Importance of Prioritizing Mental Health

Luke Young


Staff Writer


70% of college students do not regularly see a mental health professional, though 60% report experiencing mental health issues. In a world where therapy is becoming more mainstream, why do college students still not utilize a mental health professional? Some may believe that mental health professionals will prescribe you harmful medications, such as benzodiazepines, which tend to be addictive. Benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety, a common disorder that many people experience. Others may believe that it is a waste of money, of which college students tend to have little. If you go to therapy and it doesn’t help, there is no point in spending the time or money on it. Still, others may not trust counselors and fear that their personal information may be at risk. Talking about past traumas and sharing inner feelings is a sensitive topic, and many people would prefer not to share. 

There is no need to worry. Though all of these concerns are valid, they can be disproven. Though it is possible that you could be prescribed medication such as a benzodiazepine, such prescriptions are rare, due to their addictiveness. Psychiatrists are the only branch of mental health professionals that can prescribe medication, and they are uncommon on college campuses across the US. Secondly, though therapy can be costly, therapists tend to charge a flat rate and take many insurances as well. At Plymouth and other colleges across the country, free therapy sessions are available to students as part of their tuition. PSU offers group, couple, and individual therapy options, with sessions ranging from 1 to 8 weeks. Mental health problems can’t be solved in one session, because just like physical health afflictions, they take time to heal. If you break your ankle, you should not run a 4k the day after. Through constant effort, you can work up to using your ankle again. Similarly, your mental health can be improved through small steps. Finally, all mental health professionals must take an oath of confidentiality under the Health Insurance Protection and Portability Act, the same laws that preside over doctors. They can only reveal sensitive information if an individual is a danger to themselves or others or under a court subpoena. Upon a violation of this oath, the counselor is liable to suspension or revocation of their license to practice as well as a fine of up to $50,000 and up to a year in prison. This being said, mental health professionals want to keep your information confidential so that they can continue to have a job. 

Mental health has more than just an unconscious impact on your life, as it spills into your social and physical health as well. Consider this: would you rather spend time with a friend who is sick with the flu or one that’s healthy? Many mental disorders also have physical health detriments, such as an anxiety disorder causing tiredness, sweating, and/or muscle aches. We need to take care of our brains as well as our bodies, as the mind is a mechanism of great precision, like a watch, that requires tuning and care. Having someone to discuss your life and problems with can help to provide a new perspective on events going on in your life and new strategies to deal with problems that might come up at a later date. These discussions with a trusted person serve to ‘wind up your brain’ and keep it running to the best of its ability.