Students discuss stress management, mental health stigma in advance of final exams

Estefania Espinosa

Just in time for final exams, students learned strategies for identifying and coping with stress, anxiety and depression at a workshop Monday.

Students and a staff member from the Counseling and Mental Health Center facilitated discussions about mental health for a student audience. CHMC staff psychologist Kimberly Burdine led a group discussion about mental health during times of added stress and answered anonymous questions from the audience.

Burdine provides specialized programming for black students and said she strives to create an environment without stigmas about mental health among minorities. According to Burdine, who holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, black people suffering from anxiety and depression are largely undiagnosed because the symptoms are easily dismissed.

“Oftentimes in our communities, we just chalk it up to that person being moody,” Burdine said. “Really, there could be mental health concerns there that we’re just not addressing. I think attending things like this and having discussions like this helps because we’re talking about it.”

Burdine said most people already know how to address mental health concerns but have a difficult time applying it to their daily lives.

“Generally we know what we should be doing,” Burdine said. “That’s not the issue. It’s doing it.”

A presentation on stress by Kiana Brown, biology senior and Vice President of the Black Health Professions Organization, advised students to schedule time for studying, sleep, leisure and exercise. 

Biochemistry junior and attendee Corinne Fotso said she thinks there is a difference in the way men deal with emotions, as opposed to women.

“Because of the expectations that society has of men, they tend to keep it in more,” Fotso said. “It’s harder for them to admit they have a problem, whereas women, if we’re going through a rough time, we’ll call our girlfriends.” 

Brown said her parents were not understanding when she sought therapy.

“My mom and dad would just be like, ‘Man, you just need to pray’ or ‘You’re just not doing right in life,’” Brown said. “I had to really take the time to realize that wasn’t working for me. Praying cannot be the only thing to help me.”    

Brown said she is glad she looked for alternatives, despite her upbringing.

“After I went to that first counseling session, it was, like, the best day ever,” Brown said.