Let’s talk about mental health student to student

Beth Thomas is a part of the clinical mental health counseling masters program at Georgia State while serving on the Junior Board for AFSP. Photo courtesy of Beth Thomas

Meet Beth Thomas, a student in the master’s degree program at Georgia State who has dedicated herself to mental health and suicide prevention.

“Mental health isn’t always regarded the same in justified spending,” Thomas said. “If you break a bone, there is an easy excuse for you to go to the doctor. But if you are suffering from anxiety or depression, some may not view that as a legitimate concern.”

She began her journey battling the mental health stigma during her undergraduate years at Georgia Tech when she noticed how mentally deteriorating academic life had become. She realized the university wasn’t able to provide adequate help to each student.

“I myself had suffered from mental health issues, and there weren’t enough resources or funding to help students like me,” she said. 

During her junior year, Thomas lost her aunts to suicide and really began to focus her attention on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Upon graduation, Thomas began working in a marketing agency where she noticed the same cycle of mental health suppression. This resulted in Thomas spearheading a mental health committee to help fellow colleagues discuss their challenges at work in a healthy way.

Graduating with a business degree, she enjoyed her time in the marketing industry, but after meeting with her counselor who was so passionate about what she does, Thomas changed her career path in service to mental health.

Today, Thomas is now in the clinical mental health counseling master’s program at Georgia State while serving on the Georgia chapter of the AFSP Junior Board. 

Thomas immediately noticed a huge cultural difference between the two Atlanta schools regarding mental health stigma.

“Georgia Tech [students were] a lot more reserved in talking about their mental health issues,” she said. “Here at Georgia State, it is refreshing to see students talking about mental health in everyday conversation.”

Thomas added that counseling isn’t the only way to take care of one’s mental health. She understands that getting therapy or other services can become expensive. Thomas advocates self-care.

“Self-care is more than just a trend of face masks and drinking wine like what we see on Instagram,” she said. “When done intentionally in a way that incorporates your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, there’s a lot you can do to give yourself a moment to breathe while fostering the resilience in yourself that you’ll need for your next challenges.”

Georgia State offers mental health resources both on campus and off. The Georgia State Counseling Center offers individual, couples and group counseling and appointments with the Mind-Body Clinic and Performance Enhancement Center. All of the services are included in student fees, free of any additional charges. 

AFSP has offered a variety of different fundraising opportunities, including the Party for Prevention, which will be held on June 13. There will be food, live music and a silent auction. It is a great network opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in mental health services.

Editor’s Note: Counseling Center, Mind-Body Clinic and Performance Enhancement Center service availability may vary with the current campus closure.