mental health illustraton Gracie Williams


As college students, there are going to be things we don’t know. There are going to be times we slip up. When this happens, the most important thing to do is to ask for help.

For most of us, this is easier said than done.

Asking for help is difficult for many reasons. It’s distressing to admit that we’ve failed, or made a mistake, or that there is knowledge we do not possess. We don’t want to disappoint the people who believe in us. We think that by asking for help, we’re confirming what we’ve secretly suspected all along: that we are not worthy of their admiration, and that they were wrong to think we were capable of success.

This, of course, is nonsense. Help is in abundance, and you have a right to ask for it. Asking for help does not mean weakness or unintelligence; in fact, it is direct evidence to the contrary. The first step of asking for help is the most crucial: You must realize you are in need of it.

The second step of asking for help is knowing who to ask. Thankfully, the University of Kansas has you covered. 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers both individual and group sessions for students with mental health concerns. 

Student Money Management helps students who have questions about budgeting or general finance. Legal Services for Students is here for advice and consultation on most legal matters, including your tax questions, because let’s face it, none of us really know how taxes work. 

Your academic advisor can help you with any questions you have about your schedule, and you can schedule an appointment with them via Jayhawk GPS

For additional academic help, the Academic Achievement and Access Center has everything from tutoring services to access services for students with disabilities. 

For your post-KU plans, the University Career Center is here to help you find jobs and internships that will help you get the most out of your education and slowly but surely fool you into thinking that you may one day crawl out from under the crushing weight of your student loan debt.

All of these are helpful places to start, but they are not magic wands. The scary thing (one of many scary things) about asking for help is that while this help certainly exists, it often does not exist without cost.

Sometimes taking advantage of resources costs time and money that we do not have available to us. This does not mean that we stop asking for help, this means that we ask for more. We reach out to our friends, our family, our communities. We ask more questions and express more concerns.

This is also challenging because it means we are forced to confront the idea that we are worthy of the space we take up in the world, that we are worthy of other people’s time, that we are worthy of patience and forgiveness we so often deny ourselves.

You do not need permission to ask for help. You are inherently worthy of assistance. There is no “struggle threshold” you must reach to “earn” assistance from CAPS, or SMM or your advisor. You can get tutoring before you start to struggle in class. You can talk to a counselor even if your mental illness isn’t debilitating. You do not need permission to do these things, but if you still want it, consider this not just permission, but an invitation. Pretend that this column has been embossed on golden stationery and addressed to you in beautiful calligraphy.

As we barrel forth into the unknown, we must be prepared to stumble, fall, and, most importantly, get back up again. When you find yourself in the dirt, please don’t be afraid to reach out. And if you find yourself still standing, please don’t hesitate to pull others to their feet.

Jamie Hawley is a senior from Salina studying English, political science and communication studies.