Rachel Parent ~ Student Government Association Senator for Peaksview Hall
For some of the on-campus University of Lynchburg’s students, living on Southside is a rite of passage. From living inside either Tate or Montgomery Hall, to moving up towards the residence halls located across from Shellenberger Field, or even the Jack and Jill style Hundley Hall, they are all stepping stones to the lovely Southside locations. As the representative for Peaksview, I would like to speak on behalf of its residents that this is a wonderful place to call home. With the private kitchen and bathrooms, to the open common room, it has so much to offer.
That being said, there is always room for improvement! An upside of the apartments is the privacy of being able to simply spend your time within your own home, as there are some common areas in the hallways of each floor, but nothing compared to the other residence halls located out of Southside. However, that upside is a double-edged sword. With the ability to simply isolate oneself to their individual apartment, it can create a breeding ground for mental health issues. The ability to just lock oneself in their room or apartment is appealing, to say the least, but also can cause detrimental consequences towards one’s mental health. As Peaksview offers only singles, even if the apartment itself is populated by six individuals, it can still lead to the ability to isolate oneself.
This may not affect many individual residents of Peaksview; however, it is still important to be aware of the potential harm. Having done some research to better understand the risks of mental health growing in an isolated setting, the American College Health Association did a survey to chart the mental health of undergraduate students. The data stated that, “in a 2017 survey of nearly 48,000 college students, 64% said they had felt ‘very lonely’ in the previous 12 months, while only 19% reported they never felt lonely,” according to the American College Health Association. Students also reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” (62%) or “very sad” (69%), and that “things were hopeless” (53%). Nearly 12% seriously considered suicide. This did not include students living on campus, specifically in apartments or singles. However, knowing that college students are already at an increased risk of a mental health decline, factoring in the ability to isolate oneself could potentially increase these numbers even more.
Noting all of the potential hazards of mental health decline in singles, bringing the community feel that is so prevalent around campus to Southside can help combat this problem. To increase the community feel that is represented throughout the University of Lynchburg, initiatives to create a feeling of community within Peaksview may help any potential mental health risks. The events put on by the RA’s are a start, but an email is easy to ignore. Creating a community feel cannot be cured by a random dotting of events. A common space could significantly help bring introverted students out of their comfort zones and encourage meeting their apartment neighbors. The second floor of the apartments is arguably the most interacted with, besides the laundry on the first. If some sort of board was placed in that area so that students could share their ideas, happenings around campus, or even ask others about meeting to hangout, a community could begin to prosper.
Mental health is crucial to a student’s success, and bringing it out of the closet and into the light can help more than it can hurt. Initiatives to bring students out of their rooms and to meet those that share their building can separate a student from “existing” and turn them towards “thriving”. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center states that “mental health problems can affect a student’s energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism, hindering performance. Research suggests that depression is associated with lower grade point averages and that co-occurring depression and anxiety can increase this association. Depression has also been linked to dropping out of school.” A sense of community can help combat these odds, and improve the overall life of the student that may be afflicted by any form of mental health issues. With a common space that is friendly and open to all floors, this can open the door towards improving mental health. It is only a start, but it can be crucial that this start occurs for a resident of Peaksview. Seeing some of one’s fellow residences should not only ever occur during a fire alarm or when they are switching over their laundry.
In conclusion, initiatives can be made to improve the lives of those who are living within Peaks View. From walking the halls of Tate or Montgomery, to now enjoying one of the nicest residence halls on campus, the community is a key factor in what it means to be a Hornet. Though this is just a stepping stone towards helping students with mental health issues in a particular building, the Counseling Center is also another completely free option! These initiatives can help bring mental health awareness out of the shadows of a closed-off single room and into a common space shared by roughly one hundred and eight students.
- “Campus Loneliness Fact Sheet.” The UnLonely Project, 10 June 2019, artandhealing.org/campus-loneliness-fact-sheet/.
- Eisenberg, D., Downs, M., & Golberstein, S. (2009). Stigma and help-seeking for mental health among college students. Medical Care Research and Review, 66(5), 522–541.