Health and Counseling Center helps students battle depression

Malik Hargett
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UNC Asheville’s campus helps students struggling with mental disorders feel accepted.
“I think it’s a common misconception that people think sometimes you get sad, but clinical depression isn’t just sadness. It’s something that affects moments of my life,” said Maddux Croom, a sophomore student.
Croom, originally from Wilmington, studies art and new media. He struggles with depression and anxiety.
“With ADHD it’s gotten worse in some aspects, but it’s something that can’t be shaken away,” 19-year-old Croom said. “It’s something that lingers, not something you get once in awhile.”
He said the solution depends on the person and the type of depression they have.
“Having good friends and a good support system is the best coping method for me,” Croom said.
Croom said UNCA makes him feel better mentally, opposed to his hometown.
“Definitely, when I’m on campus, I feel so much better than I do at my house,” Croom said. “I feel like the people around me have a lot more of an understanding of what I’m going through.
He said he’s acquainted with the staff at the Health and Counseling Center.
“They’re a really good resource because at home I don’t even have anything like this available,” Croom said. “I’ve really made connections with them and the process is a lot more personal.”
Julie Ransom, a physician’s assistant at UNCA’s Health and Counseling Center, said she treats patients of all different backgrounds and medical problems, including mental health.
Ransom said she works along with psychiatrists and counselors in order to help students better manage their health.
“I try to listen and find out what resources they already have,” Ransom said. “Here we try to find out the history of how big of a deal that problem’s been for them and if it’s a short or long term problem.”
Ransom said sometimes the problem originates from the students not being happy at home.
“Some people really feel like this is their niche, they found their home, these are their people and I think it’s great if you can find those things when dealing with this,” Ransom said.
Ranson said she encourages students to try to create their own family and friends that go beyond the scope of just acquaintances.
“Those are the kind of people I think you should align yourself with,” Ransom said.
Jay Cutspec, who directs the Health and Counseling Center, said his job is to keep students well in order to succeed academically.
More importantly, both sides of the center work together, as do the mind and body, he said.
“On one side of the center we have health services and we want to keep people physically well,” Cutspec said. “On the other side, we have counseling services that’s designed to provide emotional health.”
The Health and Counseling Center encounters people who face depression several times a day, according to Cutspec.
“The common source of it would be relationship issues,” Cutspec said. “Whether that be a relationship with a significant other, a friend, or their parents, that’s probably the issue we see the most that contributes to depression.”
“The key things they recommend to students are exercise, sleep and counseling. The final step would be medication,” Cutspec said.
He said in most of those cases, students had a home life that wasn’t very positive.
“That is a fairly common occurrence that they come here and once they get out of that environment, they’re happier,” Cutspec said.