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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Students and Mental Health

November 10, 2022
Gleb Drumi

The Importance of Encouragement and Support

By Gleb Drumi

According to a study done by Fortune, college students are almost twice as likely to experience elevated stress and anxiety compared to adults in U.S. [1] If we don’t pay enough attention to our metal health, it can ultimately lead to depression and exhaustion.  

Matthew Vaughan is a counseling liaison at Walla Walla University who works for the health and wellness center. This center focuses on identifying the needs of students and stratifies work to address these needs. Being a college student can be overwhelming because of classes, work, and strict schedules, and it is crucial to stay mentally strong and prepared. Vaughan shared that, particularly from an educational standpoint, investing in mental health care shows a high "return on investment” with “students staying in school” and being able to complete courses and graduate. [2] Mental health may not be as quantifiable as physical health, but it can seriously impact our functioning and performance.  

As he went through the consequences of COVID-19 and looked at how students’ mental health changed, Vaughan saw a slight bump in the demand for counseling from students. At the same time, he said, “What I am noticing is the intensity of what’s coming, so the stuff that we’re seeing is heavier.” [3] Around the country, we know that some therapists aren’t even accepting new patients because of how stressed the system is. This shows that there is high demand for counseling from students and “definitely the need is there.” [4] 

Vaughan shared that what “college asks of people feels almost impossible with the course load and jobs and having to maintain all these things.” [5] Therefore, it is very important to set appropriate boundaries. The stress that students experience in college is often being internalized and they look at problems as something they should not disclose. Knowing that there are resources on campus such as the health and wellness center, student life team, and chaplains’ center can be very empowering and encouraging to students that are facing challenges, even more so as we recover from the pandemic.  

Having people around who can listen to you and who can provide encouragement is necessary. Matthew Vaughan pointed out that people “feel like they’re a burden on other people, so they often don’t feel like they can go to other people to connect around and get support.” [6] This contributes to the loneliness problem which is not only related to COVID-19 but seems to have some cultural elements in it.  

Mental health cannot be ignored. “If we don’t pay enough attention” it can “ultimately be our downfall with the burnout.” [7] Just a little effort into encouraging and supporting those around us can make a world of difference.  



  1. Leonhardt, M. (2022, July 15). Crisis on campus: 60% of college kids have mental health disorders, and schools are unprepared. Fortune.
  2. Interview with Matthew Vaughan, 11/03/2022.
  3. -7 Ibid. 
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