Rates of mental health struggles are at an all-time high for college students across the United States, and Middle Tennessee State University students have access to a variety of on- and off-campus services to assist those that need them.
“Whether the issue is big or small, we are here to help students with whatever problems they are experiencing,” said Anderson, who took the helm of MTSU Counseling Services in 2018. In fact, waiting until a problem gets bigger or becomes overwhelming can make it much more difficult to get back on track.
“My advice to students is don’t wait until it gets worse. When you’re struggling with something, instead of putting it off or avoiding it, get ahead of it by seeking help and resources,” she said.
Responses from 96,000 students from 133 campuses surveyed for the annual Healthy Minds Survey during the 2021-22 academic year showed 44% reported symptoms of depression, 37% said they experienced anxiety and 15% had seriously considered suicide.
Resources to support students at MTSU run the gamut, from online modules and mindfulness tools, tele-groups and in-person groups, drop-in counseling, weekly counseling, short-term psychiatric services, to crisis services.
The Counseling Center also offers telehealth for weekly counseling and psychiatric appointments. If students are unsure of the status of their mental health, assessment tools are available on the Counseling Services website.
“There are so many tools available,” Anderson said. “While counseling is available, there are many other things students have access to as well.”
Each semester there are wellness fairs where students can connect with community resources as well as on-campus offerings. For those interested in being part of the solution, Mental Health First Aid Training funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is offered through the Center for Health and Human Services at MTSU.
“I really strongly encourage students to seek out all the resources that are available to them,” Anderson said. “We understand college can be overwhelming.”
Parents may be unsure of how to help their young adult children who often struggle in silence. If you’re seeing signs that your child might be wrestling with depression or anxiety, Anderson suggests parents be specific with what they are seeing when initiating a conversation.
“You’re looking for changes in behavior, if someone is sleeping all the time, their grades are declining, they’ve stopped showering, their dorm is a total mess,” Anderson said. “A person can easily say, ‘I’m fine.’ So you have to be specific with what you’re seeing to substantiate your concern. It gives more credence and sometimes you are planting a seed.”
Friends and educators can use the same parameters for assessment.
Although it may sound cliché, there are steps students can take to ensure a foundation for health and wellness. Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise, and give yourself grace, Anderson said.
“A lot of times students think self-care is just adding one more thing to their to-do list,” Anderson said. “But being compassionate to yourself is important. If your best friend is going through something, what would you say to help them feel better? That’s the same way you should be treating yourself.”
Here is a list of on- and off-campus resources and offerings available to MTSU students.
MTSU Counseling Services
Through MTSU Counseling Services, located in Room 326-S in Keathley University Center, students can walk in or call to schedule a same-day screening appointment with a licensed staff counselor between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The center offers free counseling for currently enrolled students whose presenting issue meets a short-term model of care, or approximately six sessions or less. Counselors will connect students who have long-term needs with community providers. Crisis counseling is immediately available for students who are struggling with self-harm or having suicidal ideations.
Professional Counseling Program
MTSU Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, located at 503 E. Bell St. in Miller Education Building, is a training facility with the Professional Counseling Program at the university.
Graduate students provide free counseling services to MTSU students and staff, and cost is $10 for community residents. Hours during fall and spring semesters are 1-8 p.m. Monday, 1-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Request an appointment online at https://www.mtsu.edu/ccps/services.php, or call 615-898-2271.
If you need a little help getting started with some life changes, free one-on-one wellness coaching is available through MTSU Health Promotions/Health Services, adjacent to the atrium inside the Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. Work with a wellness advisor to help with stress, time management, weight issues, smoking cessation, financial counseling and more.
Request an appointment online at https://www.mtsu.edu/healthpro/health-coach.php.
If you’re overwhelmed with a situation or need to talk out a problem, Counseling Services offers the confidential Let’s Talk program from 2-4 p.m. Monday through Friday in Student Union Building Room 216. The 30-minute one-on-one sessions can help students gain insight and find resources. Availability is based on a first-come basis. Last session of the day is 3:30 p.m. For more details, call 615-898-2670 or visit https://www.mtsu.edu/counseling/lets-talk.php.
Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) is a free self-paced resource available to all MTSU students, faculty and staff. The interactive web-based program provides guided activities to help overcome anxiety, depression and other common concerns. To learn more, visit https://mtsu.edu/ccps/TAO-Connect.php. Use your MTSU email address to create a free and private account at: https://us.taoconnect.org/register.
Off-campus / After-hours resources
• Crisis: Call 911 or go directly to the nearest ER.
• Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
• Mobile Crisis Line of Middle Tennessee: 1-800-704-2651
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
• Crisis Text Line
The Crisis Text Line is staffed by a live, trained volunteer crisis counselor who responds through a secure online platform.
Text HOME to 741-741.
For students of color,text STEVE to 741-741 to access a culturally trained crisis counselor.
You can also visit https://crisistextline.org for online chat via web browser or WhatsApp. Click the responding box to connect.
• The Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ individuals)
Text START to 678-678
For the online chat option, visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help/ and click on the box that says, “Chat With Us.”
• Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
• Domestic Violence Hotline of Rutherford County: 615- 896-2012
• The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or text
START to 88788
• Sexual Assault Hotline of Rutherford County: (615) 494-9262
• RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network): 1-800-656-4673
• Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
• TN REDLINE (for substance use and other addictions): 1-800-889-9789
• Drug Abuse Hotline 1-800-662-4357
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)