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SALT LAKE CITY — Navigating a new chapter as an incoming college freshman, or even a returning student, can be overwhelming.
At the University of Utah, mental health first responders are stationed at each residential building, ready to listen and provide support.
"I was a little stressed out this morning because I waited way too long to start packing," said Ella Ashcroft, who was just moving into her new living space for the school year.
It is her second time moving to campus.
"I know I like the people that I live with and it's going to be fun having an apartment," she said. And, this time around, she is feeling more prepared.
"I lived on campus last semester," Ashcroft said. "It's definitely a little bit scary. You don't know what to expect."
She said the unknowns can isolate first-timers.
"Especially if you're from out-of-state and you don't have someone you think you can talk to," Ashcroft said.
Dr. Torrence Wimbish, a licensed mental health provider at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, understands the challenges students have. He serves as a mental health first responder, or MH1, supervisor.
"They're going to have to navigate life on a large campus," Wimbish said. "Navigate when to eat. What to eat. Navigate when to sleep, navigating how to study."
Students living on campus can turn to his team if and when they're struggling.
"We see students coming in with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harming thoughts," Wimbish said.
Students seeking help after hours or off-campus, may not get immediate help, and that's where MH1 can step in.
"It's convenient. It may be 8 o'clock at night, 9 o'clock at night, and they can either contact the crisis line or Safe UT app, or, if they're a student on this campus they can reach out to us and we'll meet with them," Wimbish said.
Wimbish added it's important for students to recognize when they need help.
"If you notice a pattern, of you're having more sad days than usual, or you're having more anxious days than usual, then that might be a sign," he said.
Students can talk to a counselor or a friend and take time out to recharge.
For Ashcroft, her bouts of homesickness didn't last long once she changed her mindset.
"Now that I'm here. I'm super, super excited," she said. "Go all in! Meet new people. Have fun. Don't hold yourself back."
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline./p>
- Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
- 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
- NAMI Utah: namiut.org
- SafeUT: safeut.org
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Utah chapter: afsp.org/chapter/utah
Warning signs of suicide
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.Information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.