Two faculty members will be available to give support, advice and prayers in Danforth Chapel every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. during the spring semester.
Hao Xu is an associate professor and the coordinator for the Christian Faculty and Staff Network at Southern Miss. Xu said he conceived the idea for the project after teaching students with anxiety and depression.
“The university’s job is to educate, but as a Christian, I feel that we should do more,” Xu said.
Xu said he hopes to give students a place to comfortably discuss and face their personal fight with depression though strengthening their relationship with God and creating relationships with people who face similar struggles.
The meetings are open to people of any faith.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian or not,” Xu said. “I will still pray for you. I just want to see people be free. Whether it be from pain that is physical, mental or spiritual.”
Students are beginning to seek mental health assistance.
In 2016 The Center for Collegiate Mental Health found there has been a 50 percent increase (150,483 total) of college students searching for mental health treatment. According to their database, more than 50 percent of the students visiting the Student Counseling Services went for reasons involving depression and anxiety.
More than 300 million people worldwide have depression, according to The World Health Organization.
Computer science major and senior Whitney Keith said depression can negatively affect school performance.
“I’m not religious, but I support the idea of students having a place to talk about their issues,” Keith said.
Bailin Caldwell, junior history major, said Xue’s idea is “good,” especially for new students.
“The shock of a university workload and being separated from your family for the first time is an easy catalyst for depression,” Caldwell said.
Xu said he wants students to know one thing: “There are people on this campus who want to walk with them and help,” Xue said. “It’s not just about grades.”