It's Okay Not to Be Okay

기사승인 [401호] 2023.04.05  


- Therapy Programs at DKU

   Since the advent of COVID-19, more people have suffered from depression to the extent that a new term was coined, called the COVID-19 Blues. With students from middle and high school to college unable to take face to face courses for about two years, online classes were commonplace and to make matters worse, hanging out with friends was restricted due to social distancing measures. As a result of all these life changes, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety became serious social phenomena. For Dankookians (Students of Dankook University) struggling with mental health issues, the Dankook Herald (DKH) would like to share information on where they can receive assistance on campus.

▲ Woman Suffering from Depression (Photo from Unsplash)

   According to Korea’s Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service’s analysis of statistics on depression and anxiety treatment between 2017 and 2021, the number of people suffering from depression grew by 35 percent from approximately 690,000 in 2017 to more than 930,000 in 2021. The number of anxiety disorder patients also increased by roughly 32 percent, from 650,000 in 2017 to 860,000 last year. This problem is not unique to Korea. Dr. Damian Santomauro of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, reported to the medical journal The Lancet that more than 53 million people worldwide reported having depression and anxiety disorders in 2020. University freshmen seem to be most affected by these health matters. These are people accustomed to regular guidance from their parents or homeroom teachers, but away at university they live independently, and that freedom makes some of them anxious. There is also the problem of constantly being compared to classmates in this excessively competitive world. International students, including exchange students, are also overwhelmed when adapting to new and unfamiliar environments. Mental health counseling helps students restore their sense of stability and relieve any mental anguish they are experiencing. For those uncertain about seeking therapy, the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) is an online assessment tool for self-diagnosis of depression. The test is easy to access online and is available anytime, anywhere. Once you complete the questionnaire, if your total score is higher than 21, you are experiencing severe depression. While online self-diagnosis is a good first step, seeking an examination by a medical expert or professional consultant is much more accurate.

   Dankook University (DKU) organized systems for monitoring depression regularly and examines the symptoms of depression in faculty and students. If you have difficulty controlling your emotions, the DKH recommends you seek out therapy at the Dankook Counseling and Mediation Center (DCMC), Counseling Center for foreigners, or a local psychiatric facility.

   The DCMC was established to provide Dankookians welfare services such as assistance with university life and mental well-being. Therapy at the DCMC is conducted in individual or group counseling sessions. To apply for individual counseling complete an application form and reserve a spot for counseling online or offline. Once the reservation is made, applicants are required take the psychological test and therapy is conducted based on the results. Reservation for group counseling is much the same. When you fill out the application form online or offline, the center will inform you of how many people will be attending depending on the therapy topic. The Centre operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the semester and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during vacation time. The DCMC at the Jukjeon Campus is located next to the security office on the third floor of Toegye Memorial Central Library. The DCMC at the Cheonan Campus is next to the CU convenience store at Yulgok Memorial Library. For further information, call 031-8005-2531~2532(Jukjeon Campus), 2548 041-550-1291~1294, 1297(Cheonan Campus). All consultations are strictly confidential.

▲ The DCMC in Jukjeon Campus (left) and Cheonan Campus (right) (Photo from the Dankook Herald)

   The Counseling Center provides support for international students who are struggling with emotions as well. Counseling is provided by telephone, in individual or group sessions, or through Kakaotalk chat (a SNS in Korea). Every international exchange student attending DKU can access this program if they need it. If you are concerned about your future career, are suffering from an academic slump, or finding it difficult to adjust to life while studying abroad, please feel free to visit the Counseling Center to make an appointment with a counselor. You can also make an appointment for programs about mental health and therapy through the website Young-woong Story.

   The DKH conducted an anonymous survey to investigate the psychological health and counseling of Dankookians. 57 people participated, and around 40 percent of them said they had experienced depression. Approximately 30 percent of all respondents and 50 percent of those who reported experiencing depression said they had suffered depression and anxiety for more than two weeks due to Covid-19, indicating that they were suffering from Corona Blue. In addition, 30 percent of the respondents attempted to overcome their depression by visiting psychiatric and psychological counseling centers or talking with people around them, while 20 percent said they were unsure of what to do or how to get help. About 33 percent of the respondents said they wanted mental health treatment but had never received it. The reasons for seeking out therapy were depression, panic attacks, and stress. Those who wanted to treatment but had never received it had various reasons for not getting the help they needed such as costs, social stigma, a lack of information, and ignorance of the seriousness of the problem. Moreover, 58 percent of Dankookians knew about DCMC, but only 12 percent of them used it. However, more than half of DCMC users expressed satisfaction. Some respondents complained that it was inconvenient to have to respond to the questionnaire before receiving counseling and that the method to access the service was not adequately promoted. Additional organizations offering mental health support, besides the counseling services on campus, include the suicide prevention counseling program available by phone at 1393, the mental health counseling service available at 1577-0199, and the Korea Life program reachable at 1588-9191.

   With the growing prevalence of the problem and the information on how to seek out help being made available, hopefully, more students who require the services will be able to access counseling with more confidence. Overall, the DKH hopes that psychological counseling services in universities will expand to meet the needs of their student bodies and it becomes more acceptable to admit you are not okay and you need help. Please pay attention to your mood and that of the people around you. Offer assistance if someone you know looks like they need help or shows signs of depression. Counseling is nothing to be ashamed of, and you should always get help for yourself or others before it is too late.

김지원, 황인경, 이은희, 윤희원

<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald 무단전재 및 재배포금지>




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