Mental health is an important factor of a person’s well-being that isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be.  Statistics show that mental health is declining, and mental illness is rising. To give you an idea of how the pandemic has impacted mental health, among adults, screening for depression increased 62% and screening for anxiety increased 93% from 2019 to 2020.  

Mental Health impacts everyone, including students at Winona State University. At WSU, 39.3% of students reported being diagnosed with at least one mental health condition (data from 2018 Boynton Survey). If you are struggling with any of these conditions, know that you are not alone and there are resources at WSU to help you. 

What is Sadness?

Do you ever wonder why you are feeling sad or why you are sad so often? When I am feeling sad, I like to remind myself that every emotion I have serves a purpose and that I’m feeling that emotion for a reason. When I feel this way, I ask myself, “what is this emotion telling me?” and “why am I feeling this way?” It is important to recognize these emotions because ignoring them often makes these feelings stronger.  

What is Depression?

Sadness and depression often go hand-in-hand, but depression is a little bit more complex. Specifically, depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. A good way to understand depression is to think of it as a group of conditions that can range from major depressive disorder to bipolar disorder. You may ask yourself, “well what exactly does that mean?” and “what are the differences?” 

Depression Signs & Symptoms

It is helpful for me to differentiate between these different conditions by understanding some of the symptoms associated with them. Some of the signs & symptoms associated with major depressive disorders can include but are not limited to; 

  • Persistent depressed mood 
  • Low interest in all activities 
  • Significant weight loss or gain 
  • Sleeping too much or too little 
  • Restlessness or slow moving 
  • Feeling worthless or intense guilt 
  • Having difficulty focusing or making decisions 
  • Frequent thoughts of wanting to end your life 

The Line Between Sadness and Depression

In college and in life it is very normal to occasionally have feelings of unhappiness, sorrow, grief, hurt or disappointment. These types of feelings can stem from all kinds of things; maybe you are disappointed with your performance on an exam, or hurt by something you witnessed, experienced, or saw on social media.

There are many scenarios that can trigger these feelings. It is important to know that these feelings are normal and experienced by everyone at one time or another. However, when these types of feelings become constant, crippling, and/or debilitating, it’s time to seek help.

When & Where to Seek Help

You should seek help if you are experiencing feelings of:  

  • Being distant or disconnected from the campus community  
  • An increased amount of anxiety, depression, or stress 
  • Feeling sad or the need to be heard 
  • Tragedy such as losing a family member or friend, sexual assault, or are having suicidal thoughts. 

WSU Counseling Services is a great resource for students to get help and support. Set up an appointment with them via email at or by phone at 507.457.5330.  

WSU also offers medical management of mental health services through Health and Wellness Services. To learn more about what services they offer call 507.457.5160.