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Mental health in Tar Nation

Although society as a whole has made strides in revolutionizing treatments for mental disorders, stigma is still something those of us who publically receive treatment have faced.

At Rollins, that long-lived story has been rewritten; here, the Wellness Center works with Disability Services to make sure that having a mental illness never prevents students from having an incredible college experience.

I tend to use humor as a way to introduce my mental illness to people. Most friends will smirk at the beaten horse of a joke, “My Therapist Says…” until they realize I refer to a real therapist, from whom I receive real therapy, for my very real obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Everyone is different, but I am inclined to believe that having the ability to laugh about OCD as I do about every other facet of myself normalizes discussions of mental health.

My feelings on the matter now are a complete reverse from the sentiments I brought to Rollins last year. Two years of declining health and intensifying shame convinced me that I was never going to a counselor or trying medication again—smart move, I know. Blessedly, my reaction to the stressful first few weeks of school was to break my vow and make an appointment with the Wellness Center for counseling. I’ve been going ever since.

Freshmen just arriving at Rollins should know that they can have one-time or returning appointments with a counselor on campus that fits their needs at absolutely no cost to them. Every aspect of the Wellness Center is geared toward hospitality; one of the best parts of my week is opening the door to Melissa’s shining face at reception and sneaking a bag of fruit gummies from the basket at check-in. There is no “type” of student I have been able to pick out from the waiting room—people from all backgrounds are in the same boat as you.

That being said, incoming freshman should also know that discretion is valued just as much as openness. Your information remains private as directed by law. All counselors’ rooms are equipped with white noise machines as a precaution against listening ears—though I have never run across any. Students’ privacy is so valued by Rollins staff that Wellness Center employees will not engage with you outside of the building or appear to recognize you in public unless you give consent. Wherever you are on your journey toward acceptance, the Wellness Center has you covered.

Counseling is just one of the services provided. If you need medication, Rollins also covers costs of meeting with a psychiatrist to discuss treatment options. When I applied for sophomore housing, Wellness Center staff provided an evaluation—with my permission—for Disability Services to present to Housing, who worked with all of us to provide the accommodations I needed.

This morning I woke up in my beautiful apartment, graced with a view of the Knowles bell tower, and thought just how blessed I am to not be where I was a year ago… to be healthy enough to experience all of the joy that Rollins has to offer.

I feel more myself than I have in a long, long time—and I owe it to the amazing team here at Rollins that prioritizes the mental health of every student on campus.

Whether you’re looking for a one-time advice session or a long-term regimen, you should know that Rollins is here for you. If I could only give one piece of advice to all our new Tars, it would be to take advantage of the Wellness Center now—you don’t have to wait. You deserve to enjoy your time in Tar Nation.

Just tell Melissa I sent you.


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