To address the rising concern of mental health among students, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) has taken a significant step forward under the leadership of Dr. Theresa Sharpe, the Director of the University Counseling Center. Dr. Sharpe, a steadfast advocate for student well-being, emphasizes the Texas A&M University system’s commitment to recognizing and addressing mental health challenges faced by students. “Mental health is a very real concern for our students,” Dr. Sharpe asserts, highlighting the urgency of the matter.
The concern is backed by alarming statistics from the Healthy Minds Study, which reports that nearly half of the college students surveyed across 133 campuses exhibit symptoms of depression. This trend sadly does not spare TAMU-CC. Dr. Sharpe points to a multitude of factors contributing to student depression, including the stress of balancing multiple roles and the external pressures that come with academic life. She also sheds light on the double-edged sword of social media, noting its potential to connect and isolate individuals. “As much as some of these online resources and social media can connect people, they can also lead to social comparison, making people feel more isolated,” she explains.
In response to these challenges, TAMU-CC has introduced Telus, an innovative mental health support app designed to offer a lifeline to students grappling with depression and anxiety. Telus sets itself apart by providing a platform where students can engage in text or voice conversations with licensed professionals, all at no cost. Dr. Sharpe is hopeful that this tool will empower students to seek help before their mental health concerns escalate to affect their academic performance and overall success. “When students are experiencing mental health concerns, this can affect their academic performance, their academic success, and even their ability to stay in school,” she notes, underlining the critical link between mental health and academic achievement.
The introduction of Telus has been met with positive feedback from the student body. One student, Cooper, shared her thoughts on the app’s potential impact, highlighting the accessibility it provides. “That’s very beneficial because few people can access a counselor. Some people may have parental problems. So to be able to be on campus and have that kind of access is very good for us students,” Cooper remarked. Her statement reflects a broader appreciation among students for the university’s efforts to make mental health resources more accessible.
The launch of Telus at TAMU-CC is a testament to the university’s proactive approach to tackling mental health issues head-on. By recognizing the multifaceted nature of mental health challenges and the various factors that contribute to them, including the impact of social media and the pressures of student life, TAMU-CC is setting a precedent for other institutions in the Texas A&M University system and beyond. Dr. Sharpe and her team’s dedication to student well-being, coupled with innovative solutions like Telus, are paving the way for a healthier, more supportive academic environment where students can mentally and academically thrive. As the conversation around mental health continues to evolve, initiatives like these serve as crucial stepping stones towards a future where mental health support is readily available to all who need it, ensuring that no student has to navigate these challenges alone.