Getting to Know Yo(u)rk: How Do I Protect My Mental Health at College?
College can be a confusing place, but it doesn’t have to be. In Getting to Know Yo(u)rk, we speak to members of the York College community to shed light on various aspects of the college experience.
College can be a stressful experience, and sometimes, living in a new environment, saddled with full course loads and test dates always looming on the horizon, students can find themselves putting other priorities on the back burner. One priority that often suffers from lack of attention is mental well-being.
Considering that the age of onset for mental health problems can directly coincide with traditional college years, it is helpful to be reminded that there exists for students a vast array of tools with which they can maintain their mental health.
The large variety of activities, services, groups, and organizations offered at York College hint at the College’s understanding of the benefits of taking a holistic approach to mental health. That means taking into consideration not just mental factors, but physical, social, and spiritual ones as well.
Students who find themselves experiencing mental health symptoms should remember that Counseling Services is here to help. That office, located on the first floor of Codorus Hall, offers free, confidential counseling services to all YCP students. Students can meet with a counselor in an individual, group, or couples setting, and can schedule appointments by calling 717-815-6437.
Darrell Wilt, Director of Counseling Services, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has seen what reaching out for help can do for students. “Many students who access our services see improvements in managing their stress, anxiety, and relationship problems,” he says. “Students feel more grounded when they have a person they can talk with confidentially who helps them problem-solve and find solutions to their challenges. It can be a valuable life-changing experience.”
York College also recently partnered with virtual healthcare platform TimelyCare, which offers a wide variety of services. Through TimelyCare, students can access treatment for basic medical issues like colds and flus, receive personalized health and nutrition coaching, and speak to mental healthcare professionals. Insurance is not required, and TimelyCare is available to students even during breaks between semesters.
No approach to managing mental health would be complete without recognizing that often one of the best ways to treat mental health symptoms is to move your body, however you are able. Rachael Finley, YCP’s Director of Campus Recreation, has made a career out of helping students embrace that approach.
Finley was a three-sport athlete in high school, then went on to play club volleyball as a student at Central Michigan University. The positive experiences she had as a club sports athlete sharpened her focus professionally, and set her down the path she is still on today.
“I loved it so much that I wanted to get into it as a career,” she says, “and to provide opportunities for other students like me who weren't varsity athletes but still wanted to be active.”
From her office in Grumbacher, Finley has seen firsthand the positive effect that getting involved in campus recreation has had on students. “Participating here, being in this environment, [students] can have a sense of belonging, and be a part of something bigger than themselves,” she says.
Campus Recreation offers activities for individuals of all levels of ability and interest. Club sports may be suited to those seeking a bit of competition. They are student-run, and involve travel to compete with clubs at other colleges. Intramural sports exist “more for fun,” says Finley, “as an opportunity to stay engaged in something you enjoy.” A variety of fitness programs are also offered, including a Sprint 8 Challenge in which participants engage in eight rounds of 30- second all-out sprints followed by 90 seconds of rest. It is gaining national attention for its ability to bring about monumental physical and mental changes. “That program changes lives,” says Finley.
For those more interested in less traditional athletics, Campus Recreation offers the opportunity to participate in a variety of adventure sports, from rock climbing to paddle boarding, and trips to outdoor recreation areas like Chickies Rock in Lancaster, are always being planned.
The Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center is open 150 hours per week, and students can sign up for activities through the YCP Rec App. “All are welcome,” says Finley. “Campus recreation is for everybody.”
For those who depend on their faith when mental health crises arise, or find comfort and guidance in spirituality, YCP has plenty to offer.
An interfaith chapel, Brougher Chapel, sits on the northeast section of the campus grounds. Inside students will find an area for worship as well as areas for meditation and counseling. Students are invited to Catholic Mass every Sunday during the academic year at 5 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church on South Beaver Street in York.
Zach Grossman is a junior History major and a member of the York College chapter of Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organization in the country. Grossman often attends Shabbat services in the Doris and Bernard Gordon Center for Jewish Student Life on West Springettsbury Avenue, but also finds that practicing his Judaism in his own personal way has helped him get through college.
“Faith and mental health are intertwined in my experience,” says Grossman. “If I am having a bad day or something is getting me down, I know I can always turn to the scripture and seek the wisdom it provides.” Grossman says he often turns to the Book of Ecclesiastes for guidance. It helps him remember that “life is temporary and to stop worrying about what I cannot control.”
Julianna Orkin ‘23 is the Coordinator of Jewish Life at York College, and amongst other duties, she meets with students often, offering them a chance to connect and learn through their faith. She has seen the impacts that engaging with spiritual life can have on students.
“Our spiritual life teams and religious organizations on campus serve as an additional means of support for students,” says Orkin. “[They] can help point them in the right direction or get them the guidance they need.”
Sometimes, just the simple act of engaging with other members of your faith can have profound social and mental effects. “I think students gathering together in a welcoming environment and building connections is a huge advantage for them and their well-being,” says Orkin.
Social Activities and Help
This is by no means an exhaustive look at the various organizations, activities, and services that York College offers to students experiencing mental health difficulties. Studies are important, but students should also remember that friendship and living a social life are just as important to being successful in college as getting good grades.
All students receive emails from the Campus Activities Board (CAB). CAB is always hard at work organizing social events, game and craft nights, and live performances to help students live a more rewarding social life on campus. CAB can be followed on all the major social media platforms.
And finally, if you need help, reach out – to a friend, an advisor, a mental health professional – anyone. And if you are that individual for whom someone is reaching out for help, remember that the YCP community is a community that cares, and that help is out there and within reach.