UVU’s need for more mental health resources

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De-stigmatizing mental illness is a societal necessity

Jared Stirland

Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Mental Health

Every year, Mental Health America (MHA) consistently reports Utah in the top five for the consumption of anti-depressant medication, suicides, and depression diagnoses.  However, according to MHA, Utah should not be ranked this high, because Utah scores low on most of the variables that influence the development of clinical depression.

UVU has one of the worst therapists to student ration in the country.  The current ratio is about one therapist to every 5,000 students.  There is a three-week waiting period in order for a student to make an appointment to see a therapist at UVU.

A group of student researchers at UVU are working with Dr. Cameron John, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology, exploring the psychological effects of Toxic Perfectionism in Utah.  They hypothesize it may be playing a factor in Utah’s high depression rates.

Their study found a statistically significant correlation between clinical anxiety and perfectionism.  On average, those who scored high on the perfectionistic scale also scored high on the anxiety scale.

Depression can be caused by physiological and pathological changes in an individual’s brain.  Psychologists and psychiatrists refer to this as objective effects because there are observable changes to the structure of the person’s brain.

The subjective effects of depression are changes in a person’s demeanor or behavior, and are measured using self-rate scales and assessment interviews with questions about how the person feels.

Human brains are sensitive, but they are adaptable like plastic, just ask Phineas Gage who had a railroad spike go through his brain, and he continued living a normal life – although there were personality changes.

The problem with mental illness is the complexity of our brains.  We all have the same types of biological cells and biochemicals, but each person is affected in a unique way.

Anti-depressant medication changes the biochemical production in the brain by increasing the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which control motivation, appetite, sleep, and pleasure.  These are objective effects with the goal of improving an individual’s state of mind, which is subjective.

Not all mental illnesses require medication, but some do.  The term mental illness encompasses a huge spectrum ranging from Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder to anxiety disorders and Attention Deficient Disorder, which makes treating a mental illness difficult.

There is nothing to be ashamed of with mental illness, just like there is nothing to be ashamed of with diabetes, heart conditions, or when getting a stomach virus (unless there is an unexpected colon malfunction, then…).

“People think that if they are sad or if they have a mental illness that they are damaged, and that they might look weak.  There are more people suffering from mental illnesses than they realize, and sometimes people ostracize themselves, but nobody needs to suffer alone,” said McKenzie Pinckney, UVU graduate.

UVU should be taking this issue of poor therapist to student ratios seriously, as students dealing with issues deserve more immediate help. The future is bright, however it is difficult to see that brightness when dealing with some of the dark sides of mental illness. With the rapid growth at the university, there should be equal growth within the support of therapist on campus for students dealing with mental illness.