“She never made you feel alone … she knew how to encourage, just lift people’s spirits up.” That’s what a teammate said about 19-year-old Arlana Miller, a cheerleader and freshman at Southern University.
But little did her teammates know, after encouraging them through practice after practice, Arlana would return to her dorm feeling more alone than ever.
In early May, after a detailed Instagram post sharing her struggles with mental health, COVID-19 and a cheer injury, Arlana took her own life.
While her life may have seemed “picture-perfect” from the outside, the pressure to achieve and live up to her cheery image was too much for the aspiring psychiatrist.
Like countless HBCU and college students heading back to campuses across the nation this season, Arlana’s life was just beginning. Even still, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. And with over 3,000 Black youth dying by suicide in 2017, this isn’t just a “white” problem.
You see, while college can be a beautiful new chapter, it can also present a new set of challenges young adults like Arlana can’t face alone.
And they shouldn’t have to. That’s why this Suicide Awareness Month, I want to shine a light on mental health on college campuses and how we can support students at such a pivotal time.
Here’s how you can support the students in your life:
Check In Frequently
Many youth graduate high school and hightail it out of their hometowns for college. But what they may not realize until they get there is how much they miss the comforts of home.
Make a note to text or call regularly during the semester. Even though they might not say it, knowing you care for them goes a long way.
Encourage Them to Build a Support System
With all the changes happening in their lives, college students need support from all angles. Encourage them to connect not only with their friends and family but trusted professors and advisors, too.
A standing therapy appointment with a licensed therapist may give them the specialized care they need. You can click here to schedule a session with me.
Request Me to Speak on Campus
As a licensed psychotherapist, bestselling author and experienced public speaker who is passionate about the mental health of the next generation, my talks inspire young adults to invest in their well-being.
Whether to a small cohort or the whole campus, hearing from a mental health expert can make a difference in a student’s life.
Heading to college is an exciting time for many students, but it’s also a scary transition. And without the right support, college-aged students can succumb to the unfortunate clutches of depression and suicide. We can help them avoid an untimely end with frequent check-ins, a broad support system and words from a licensed mental health expert. Go here to learn how I can speak on your campus or your child’s: https://www.scheduleyou.in/TVN83I.