A survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shows an estimated 60 percent of college students are more likely to drop out due to mental illness. Mesa Community College (MCC) is empowering students to combat mental health problems to help achieve their educational goals by counseling and camaraderie.
MCC website shows that 61 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students will return the following year and for part-time students the retention rate is 38 percent. The college does not know the number of students who are affected by mental illness. “Mesa Community College is a microcosm of our society. We do not have estimated numbers, as we are busy supporting the students who make appointments for counseling,” MCC Chair Counselor Heidi-Christa Adams said.
MCC counseling “provides personal counseling, career counseling, academic counseling, and crisis counseling for the students of MCC. Counselors help students to set and attain their personal, academic, and career goals,” Adams said. Tori Schramm is an MCC student who has been affected by social anxiety. In high school, relentless bullying had catapulted her into social fear and isolation. For 10 years she was exclusively an online student and now she is attending her third semester in MCC.
She remembers her first day of attending college being a challenge. “When I parked and I walked on campus I felt like I was walking back into high school and all of that fear of not having friends came back,” Schramm said. “My mind tells me everyone’s staring at me even though they might not be in real life, but your mind tells you that everyone is staring at you and to me it feels like I’m going to hyperventilate or I just need to escape and get away from people,” she adds.
According to the NAMI report “1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.”
Some of those mental illnesses are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Mesa Community Colleges offers counseling from staffs with many years of experience. “Manage your study and work time while leaving enough time to eat properly and get enough sleep,” counselor Adams advised. “Enjoy your life as a student and keep life balanced.”
For Schramm it’s the openness from the diverse students in MCC that encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone. “I think for people with social anxiety you have to own who you are and to be with people you don’t have to impress,” said Schramm. “What made going to school easier is that I’ve made a friend and when I’m around that one person I feel comfortable of not being judged,” she added.
For the years to come in Schramm’s life and educational career she is hopeful, “I’m looking forward to being around more people and having more confidence and radiating that confidence.”
The Empact Crisis Line is available 24 hours at (480) 784-1500.