Weather forecasts SAD months ahead

Illustration by Blake Fernandez

With the color of the leaves changing, everyone knows that a harsh winter is approaching rapidly, and sadly, a cold and cloudy state of mind couples with the grayest time of year.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) comes into effect as soon as the first chilly feelings of the year waltz their way into Flagstaff. Despite common misconceptions about the disorder, it has been confirmed as a very real condition.

Flagstaff Business News columnist and medical director for the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona, Richard Holt, stated, “The most challenging months for SAD sufferers are January and February, but can begin as the holidays arrive.”

With the stresses that go alongside college academics, social and distant family life, it can be difficult for students to find a healthy balance while maintaining a sound mentality.

NAU has options for students to talk to someone during the rough winter season, but there is an argument to be made about how inconvenient and inaccessible these options are.

In terms of how helpful the planned campus events are, they would receive a generous two to three stars on Yelp. Granted, while the Paws Your Stress event is wonderful in theory, it seems to add to the stress that one may be drowning in, as opposed to helping. It takes about two hours of waiting in a never-ending line to spend a minimal amount of time with animals at the event.

The counseling services offered on campus are often booked and unavailable to many students who may feel they need help. This can be dangerous, especially since many people’s demeanor takes a nosedive during the cold months. People may be unable to find the help they need within the comfort of their friend group.

NAU mental health resources must take action. Simply expanding what is already available on campus during the cold and gray weather months could help students demonstrate peak performance in their classes and even lead to them enjoying their lives in the winter.

As reported by AccuWeather, in the winter of 2018-19 Flagstaff received 95.7 inches of snow. For comparison, this amount of snowfall is only 6.5 inches less than Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which saw 101.8 inches of snow. To put the cherry on top, Flagstaff’s most recent winter was also ranked just under Caribou, Maine’s, which had 114.2 inches of snow.

Winters in Flagstaff can be harsh, and classes are not getting any easier. Students need sufficient options for support available to them now.

The Johns Hopkins Medical Journal reported that when winter ends and spring comes, suicide rates peak. This is because people who are depressed in the winter sometimes don’t notice a change in their mood until the spring season hits, which is when suicidal tendencies can arise.

It is urgent that NAU either get creative and come up with more mental health events or expand their counseling faculty.

While they’re at it, they must find a more practical solution, whatever it may be, because no one wants to wait in a two-hour long line to pet a dog and never come into contact with a counselor.