Mental health more salient than perfect grades

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Kraten Fox has only been at Dixie State University for one semester and is already learning how to deal with depression and anxiety while being a student.

Fox, a freshman computer science major from South Jordan, said it’s been a challenge going to classes and getting assignments done because of his illness. 

“I sometimes wake up with panic attacks, so it’s the hardest thing to go to my [morning] classes,” Fox said.

Outside of taking eight credits, he plays guitar, piano and sings. Although he hasn’t joined any music groups on campus, he works on classical music and solo endeavors. He is one of many students at DSU who suffer from some sort of mental illness.

Most students who suffer from a mental illness want to have it all: good grades, professional accomplishments, and exciting social lives. With careful planning, it is possible to have all these things, but it can come at a price.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness 80 percent of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have been so anxious they struggled in school. The numbers are likely to be similar at DSU. Many students stack on work and school responsibilities and hope they can take the stress of balancing it all. 

When it comes to balancing wants, needs and ambitions, Paige Jones, a junior communication major from St. George who plays for the volleyball team, said she knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with responsibilities.

“I definitely feel overwhelmed,” Jones said. “It’s hard to balance having a social life, [go] to school and (play) volleyball.”

Jones wakes up every at 4:45 a.m. to make it to volleyball practice. She goes home when her classes are over at 2 p.m. and said she hopes to have time to get a short nap before her responsibilities in the evening begin.

The Health and Wellness Center provides appointments and counseling for those who suffer from mental illness for $10 per visit. 

Joshua Puchlik, a junior business administration major from St. George, said it is extremely beneficial to get help if you are a student struggling with a mental illness.

“You can’t control 100 percent of your mental state,” Puchlik said. “Seeing a health professional is a great way to start taking back the control you do have.”

According to the same research by NAMI, 40 percent of students do not end up seeking help. 

“Counseling may not be for you, but you’ll never know how much it could have helped if you don’t try it,” Puchlik said.

Jones said, although she doesn’t suffer from a mental illness, she’s found, in order to get things done, she has to have structure by making her schedule consistent and setting aside time to study and get homework done.

Fox said the best thing to do if you’re struggling is to get out of your apartment and be social.

“My biggest, and also the hardest, piece of advice is to go out and do something,” Fox said.