Fraternity men fight stigmas around mental health

Noah Nelson, News Contributor

Kyle Getsiv is a third year student at Oregon State University studying finance. Zeyad Shureih is a second year student studying computer science. What do these people have in common? They are both fraternity men, they have both struggled with mental health, and they both took themselves to OSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services to seek help.

“I would go through these cycles almost like a survival state where I don’t have time to talk to people, I don’t have time to think,” Getsiv said. “When I needed people the most, that was when it was the hardest to reach out.”

Testimony like this statement might be more commonplace than you think. 

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable illness, 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, 50 percent have become so anxious that they struggle in school and 40 percent do not ever seek help. With roughly 25,000 undergraduate students at OSU, there is statistically about 12,500 students who struggle with school due to their mental health. 

“It’s one thing to read a statistic, but to have your friend disclose that they are in counseling makes it real and personal,” said CAPS Director Ian Kellems.

Personal testimony is very important and can help other people suffering from mental health issues feel comfortable speaking about them, according to Kellems.

“The more courageous students, faculty, and staff who speak out about their personal experiences with mental health, the better,” Kellems said.

Getsiv came to OSU Portland in 2016. The sudden shift in environment and workload created more stress than he was previously accustomed to.

“I was pretty stressed out in school, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with my grades, I was just really freaked out about the whole transition(…),” Getsiv said. “I saw no reason that going to CAPS would hurt me. I figured worst case scenario, I go see someone and talk about my problems.”

Doing exactly that, Getsiv took himself to CAPS during their walk-in hours. Within a matter of minutes, he was speaking to a counselor. 

“He was good at not telling me that I shouldn’t be stressed, but instead showing me… He asked me about how I feel, then why I feel that way, and then what is in my control,” said Getsiv.

Everyone heals and recovers from mental health issues in different ways, according to Kellems.

“It really does differ from person to person,” Kellems said.

A crucial lesson was learning what was under his control, what wasn’t, and then realizing that worrying about anything not under his control wasn’t worth the stress, according to Getsiv.

“That was probably the biggest thing I got out of CAPS,” Getsiv said.

Shureih had his own issues, and his own remedies, during his freshman year in 2017. He was stressed about the increase in class rigor, and dealing with a bad relationship only made things worse. This was compounded by moving away from home and trading some of his strongest social connections for new faces in the dorms. 

The culmination of losing his support group, and trying to deal with past issues that only got worse as the year went on, pushed him to seek help, according to Shureih.

He made the decision to take himself to CAPS during that year to sit down and speak with a counselor.

“I don’t know how they did it, but they paired me with the perfect woman. It was very comforting,” Shureih said.

Once he spoke to his counselor about his situation, he learned some lessons that he considers to be valuable to this day. He learned the practice of healthier self talk, that is, being easier on yourself for making mistakes or feeling a certain way. He also learned the importance of keeping a social circle. 

“Having a good support group was 100 percent important,” Shureih said.

CAPS has 30 therapy groups that talk about a variety of issues from depression to family trauma, relationship issues and even just stress regarding schoolwork, according to Kellems.

While Getsiv and Shureih had their separate issues and unique ways of solving them, there are a few things they had in common. Both of them had heard testimony from someone else regarding mental health. Both of them knew friends who had been to CAPS, and both of them saw improvement.

“For people who struggle with mental health issues, talking about it can be a powerful way to normalize help-seeking,” said Kellems. 

According to Getsiv, it’s important to share stories about mental health in order to help others who suffer from similar problems.

“When someone’s freaking out, you can tell them ‘oh, I did the same thing yesterday.’ Telling people your own story helps people realize that it’s normal to have these problems,” said Getsiv.

According to Getsiv, you should share your entire story, including how your current life compares to your old.

“They get the most out of hearing how I’m doing today,” said Getsiv

Getsiv is now active in his clubs, his social life and can handle his stress much more effectively after the help he has gotten from CAPS.

Shureih gets a chance to talk about his problems with a therapy group through CAPS, and he has expanded his social circle to ensure that he always has a support group.

Both of these students are doing better academically and socially after taking advantage of the CAPS program and speaking to people who are willing to listen.

According to Shureih, “If you need validation, CAPS is there. If you need someone to yell at for an hour, CAPS is there. If you need someone to sit down and talk to you about your problems, CAPS is there.”