Stamp Out Stigma, Privacy, and College

  • By 7016369785
  • 27 Jul, 2017

By Christy Porter

Preparing to go to college involves many things to consider, including living arrangements, transportation, finances, managing class loads, and managing healthcare using the resources at your chosen college. As a college student, it’s important to understand that good mental health practices can help you maintain your equilibrium during a period of significant growth and change.

The Stamp Out Stigma campaign was launched in 2014 as multiple agencies recognized that stigma about mental health kept people from accessing care. Contrary to common belief, 90 percent of those who seek help for mental health issues are able to greatly reduce their symptoms. Stigma about mental health care for those with or without a specific diagnosis is usually based in misunderstanding and myth. Those false beliefs about mental illness can cause significant problems, including a lack of understanding or support, discrimination, reluctance to get treatment early, or a loss of hope.

Other significant facts at the core of the Stamp Out Stigma campaign include:

   An estimated 26 percent of adults have a diagnosable

   mental illness in a given year; about 21 percent of children

   ages 9 to 17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive illness.

   One in two of us will have a mental health issue during our lifetime.

   Less than one-third of adults with a mental health issue will get help.

Stamp Out Stigma seeks to “reduce the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorders by talking about them.” Conversations are designed to:

   Recognize when you or your loved ones need help. Recognize the signs.

   Recognize when someone isn’t getting the help they need. 

   Recognize when stigma is creating a barrier to care. 

   Recognize the high prevalence of mental illness.

   Reeducate others to help them learn there is help and hope.

   Reeducate yourself and others on mental and emotional health. 

   Reeducate yourself and others to find the path to recovery and

   that it is possible for all.

   Reeducate yourself on resources: What are your current benefits?

   Who can you talk to? What can you do?

   Reduce stigma . Reduce hesitation to seeking care.

   Reduce misunderstandings. Reduce bullying and insensitivity.

You can contribute to these goals and to the future health of yourself and those around you by learning the signs that might indicate that someone is experiencing difficulties and would benefit from seeking care.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) designed the pdf booklet Starting the Conversation: College and Your Mental Health to help college students and their parents or guardians begin this learning process and understand the privacy laws that affect college students. The booklet notes that 30 percent “of college students reported feeling so down at some point during the previous year that they found it difficult to function.” Emotional disruption and reactions to stressful situations are common and treatable. Students can learn skills to prevent these early difficulties from becoming lifelong problems or to prevent them from having a negative impact on their college performance. Building connections and knowing how to respond and seek care if you find yourself in a similar situation should be as straightforward as going to the doctor when you have a physical illness or injury.

Seventy-five percent “of all mental health conditions begin by age 24” according to NAMI’s website , and that’s “why the college years are so critical for understanding and talking about mental health.” The website also contains videos and additional information to help start and continue conversations about maintaining good mental health with preventative practices, and about what to do if you are concerned about your current mental health or that of a friend.  

Maintaining good mental health may involve anything from seeking counseling or support during periods of high stress to dealing with a known existing mental health condition. Most colleges have counseling services available for students. Anyone attending college who already has a mental health diagnosis may also want to register with the college’s office for students with disabilities in order to maximize their chances to succeed. Registering will allow students to be assessed for any accommodations that are appropriate for their diagnosis and situation, such as taking tests in a private room to eliminate distractions. All such services and any information you share are protected by the privacy laws described in the Starting the Conversation booklet.

Privacy and the activism of the Stamp Out Stigma campaign may initially seem to be at odds. They are not. Discussing and advocating for good mental health practices in daily life encourages people to treat mental health as they would any other physical illness. The laws that guarantee your privacy allow you to control your information, which in turn may reduce concerns about seeking healthcare. Seek out a trusted adult to work with if you have concerns. Use the college counseling services to help build skills for managing stress or addressing other concerns you have about mental health.

Each college allows students to make appointments in a variety of ways, by phone call, by dropping in, and sometimes by email. All the colleges listed in the resources section also have an after hours emergency contact listed on their webpage. Often this is

Campus Security who can assess the emergency situation and put students in touch with the proper person.

Community Counseling Center of Mercer County joined the Stamp Out Stigma campaign early in 2014. Our first presentation as part of Stamp Out Stigma occurred in August of that year. We are available to make presentations to companies, schools, community groups, newspapers, and via the media. To date, we have made 96 presentations and reached about 120,000 people. For information on the Stamp Out Stigma Campaign, or to schedule a presentation, contact Fern Torok at 724-981-7141, ext. 149.

If you live or go to school locally, you can also contact Community Counseling Center to make and appoint by calling 724-981-7141 or toll free at 866-853-7758 and TTY: at 724-981-4327. For more information about Community Counseling Center of Mercer County, visit our website or our Facebook page .

Resources for Local Colleges

If your college is not listed below, contact your student health services for information about mental health counseling services or search your main college webpage for “counseling services” for contact information.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania 200 East Normal Street

Edinboro, PA 16444

Counseling Center Website:

   Counseling Center Phone Number: (814) 732-2252