Health & Wellness

How students can support their mental health during Suicide Prevention Month

The innovative services and programs at USC that can help students’ mental health thrive.

Photo of a panel sitting in front of a presentation about the film. The first row of audience members sit and observe the panel.

With classes ramping up on campus — and some students feeling overwhelmed — USC officials are promoting a new suite of online services to help improve mental health.

When students move through stressful times, it can be helpful to know about the mental health resources on campus and ways to deal with stress.

Broderick Leaks, Director of Counseling and Mental Health at USC Student Health, said in a briefing before the fall semester that the number of students who seek mental health services goes up each year.

To help students struggling with mental health, Leaks said that there have been several efforts to improve and advance mental health services at USC.

Leaks said that a new app called “Nod,” a mental health application that launched at the beginning of the school year can help improve students’ mental health.

“It’s an app that helps with belonging, and loneliness, and really helps students kind of have some creative ways of connecting with each other,” said Leaks.

Through his research, he also connected students with the Oasis mental health app, which allows students to use technology for mental health services. He said that a lot of students want chat and text features rather than calling in or seeing someone in person.

USC students also have access to UWill, an online therapy platform partnered with Counseling and Mental Health Services to talk through a problem or explore how therapy might help them in a college environment.

“We really wanted to kind of make sure that we were having the right service in the right place at the right time delivered by the right person,” said Leaks.

On Wednesday, the Simi Valley-based non-profit, All It Takes, released the first in a series of documentary training films: ‘Meeting the Moment.’ The films are aimed at providing students and educators with the tools they need to overcome the emotional and mental health challenges that persist in school environments.

The 14-minute documentary suggested that the mental health crisis has always existed and that the COVID-19 pandemic only exasperated the issue.

Professionals such as Maggie Maguire, a high school wellness teacher, explained that children in schools are struggling and that there is more anxiety and depression as well as overwhelmingness and exhaustion in the school environment.

In the short film, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a professor at USC Rossier School of Education suggests that we need to let kids move through these spaces.

“Science is unequivocally showing us that our biology literally doesn’t know how to organize itself in the absence of culture and relationships,” said Immordino-Yang.   “What students and teachers need is a safe and communal space.”

Immordino-Yang also explained that teachers need to be a safe space and direct a student to help that they may need: “We have to step back and attend to the person.”

Students in the documentary also suggested that teachers should show that they care about their students and get to know them in order to create a safe feeling in a classroom environment.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care can help maintain mental health to manage stress, lower the risk of illness and increase energy.

The NIMH provides ways to get started with self-care, including: exercising; eating healthy and staying hydrated; prioritizing sleep; practicing self-gratitude; and staying connected with friends and family.

The Suicide & Crisis Hotline national number is 988. The service provides confidential support for anyone in emotional distress or in a suicide crisis. The hotline is available any hour of the day, every day of the week.