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Student Advisors Can Benefit Students with Class Advice—Health Advice Too

From freshman orientation to advice on curriculum and career choices, the student adviser plays a key role in the progress of on-campus student life.

For newbies, early college life is an emotional roller-coaster of excitement, anxiety, highs and lows, new friends and no friends.

For students acclimated to life on campus, there are different stressors, no less severe. Data prove it:

  • Student suicides still total some 1,100 a year nationwide. It is the second leading cause of death among college students after motor-vehicle accidents.One in 10 college students has considered taking his or her own life, according to The Jed Foundation, a New York City-based college suicide-prevention program.
  • Ninety-four percent of counseling directors reported an increase in students with severe psychological conditions, including depression, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol addictions, reports the 2009 National Survey of Counseling Directors.
  • In addition, 91 percent believe a greater number of students are arriving on campus already taking psychiatric medications.
  • In the past fifty years, the suicide rate for those age 15-24 increased by over 200 percent. About 12 people aged 15-24 will commit suicide today – that is one about every two hours.
  • Caucasians account for over 90 percent of all completed suicides. For African Americans, the rate of suicide is growing faster among young African Americans than among Caucasians. Suicide rates from 1980-1995 increased 93% for African American females (age 15-24) and 214% for African American males (age 15-24).
  • Native Americans have the highest suicide rate among all 15-24 year olds.

So what can colleges and student advisers do to stymie suicide, depression and mental illness overall? They can be as interested in delivering student support as they are with academic direction. They can take time to listen more and manage equilibrium between their primary job functions and what may mean life and death for a student. We applaud student advisers for all they do, but more can be done.

Another step is to stomp the shame that comes with depression, suicidal thoughts and even addiction. That means directing students to professional psychiatric counselors and physicians. But there’s also a to-do that’s always overlooked, despite being so obvious.
It’s overall health and wellness—eating habits, exercise, stress relief—even building a set of friends.

Stress relief is our mission. That’s why we do mobile massage. And that’s why we travel to colleges. We set up our chairs, our massage areas and deliver what can eliminate stiff necks and sore muscles. We usually do chair massage. Students can breathe sighs of relief and just STOP the pace of college life. Our licensed and certified massage therapists don’t show up with dollar signs in their eyes. They’re genuine, professional and readily chat with students.

Advisers, keep advising and do the best job you can. Keep on showing your interest and concern for students. But also look for the signs that may save lives.

It really can.