Reframing Resources: How local programs are changing perceptions of college students getting help with mental health issues.

Now more than ever, taking care and being aware of your health is crucial with the pandemic numbers beginning to rise again. However, health is not simply physical; it’s also important to recognize what help you need in terms of your mental health.

Asking for help when struggling with mental health isn’t always easy, but programs like Malvern Behavioral Health recognize that and are actively working to change the stigma around asking for help and getting treatment for mental health issues.

“We opened up this unit specifically for college students struggling with mental health to the point
where it’s debilitating, or they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others” Jerry Kosmin, one of the directors involved in creating the program, said.

Located in South Philadelphia, Malvern Behavioral Health is a 22 bed in-patient unit for 18 to 26 year olds struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, failure to launch, and psychiatric breaks. It focuses on the importance of healthy peer interaction and communication.

Clinical Director of the program, Anne-Marie Esposito, talked about how oftentimes young people are
terrified of going to a hospital or program for their mental health because they feel as though their symptoms may be too acute or minor to warrant help, or they fear they’ll be surrounded by adults who won’t understand their situation. When planning the Malvern Behavioral Health program, Esposito and Kosmin didn’t want it to feel like a hospital, and Esposito described it as having a “dormitory or lounge feel” to make patients feel more comfortable.

Though the program began last November, meaning it’s still fairly new, the response to it so far has been positive. Through their Message of Hope program, patients who are leaving after their (on average) seven to 10 day stay write anonymous letters to incoming patients, encouraging them and writing about the experience they’ve had in the program, with many of them saying that it was the best thing they could have done for their mental health and that the program
proved to be beneficial for them.

Since Malvern Behavioral Health is centered around young adults with more debilitating mental health
issues, Esposito and Kosmin recommended other options for college students to manage their mental
health including yoga, meditation, making good use of the university’s counseling center, and participating in virtual support groups like those through NAMI.

Mental health is a struggle, but with these resources easily accessible, it’s not a struggle to go through alone.

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