Mental Health in the Spotlight: Some Resources for ESC Students, faculty & Staff
By Kelly Hermann, director, Office of Collegewide Disability Services
September 15, 2014
The recent news of Robin Williams’ death has sent a shockwave through the country. As fans of Mr. Williams’ work, many of us were likely wondering how someone who seemingly had it all could take his own life. We will never know what led him to his decision but we can use this sad news to learn more about mental health, the resources available to help someone in crisis, and the impact of long-term illnesses.
Many of us may have similar health experiences to Mr. Williams. We may have been diagnosed with a learning disorder or ADHD. We may have lived with the effects of depression and other psychological diagnoses. We may be living in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. We may be living with the diagnosis of a progressive, degenerative disease like Parkinson’s disease. And if we are not experiencing these diagnoses ourselves, someone near and dear to us, whether family or friend, may be, which, of course, has an impact on our own lives.
So, what can we do?
First, know the warning signs that someone is in distress. Many of us have risk factors, like Mr. Williams did, but the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists the following warning signs:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves;
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live;
- Talking about being a burden to others;
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly;
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
This is not an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of what behaviors may cause more concern than others.
If you or someone you love is thinking or talking about suicide, there is help available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24 hour a day, 7-day a week hotline with trained counselors. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The college also offers a free, 24 hour a day, 7-day a week telephone counseling service to all Empire State College students that is completely confidential. You may call Talk One2One, identify yourself as an Empire State College student, and ask to speak with a counselor. The phone number is 1-800-756-3124. It also is possible to work with Talk One2One to find an in-person counselor in your area. The first three in-person sessions will be free for Empire State College students.
If you are experiencing a medical or psychological diagnosis that is affecting your studies, you may request accommodations through the Office of Collegewide Disability Services. If you are not sure what you may qualify for or if accommodations would be a good idea for you, please give us a call to discuss. We keep your information confidential and are happy to explain what accommodations can and cannot do so you can make an informed decision. You may reach us at 518-587-2100 ext. 2201 or via email at Disability.Services@esc.edu.
Remember, you are not alone. Many of us, from students to professionals and other staff to faculty at the college deal with these same issues day-in and day-out. Reaching out and learning about the resources, services and supports available is the best tribute to Mr. Williams’ life and talent.