Global Campus Student Government President Shares Her Mental Health Journey

By Jeff Willadsen, WSU Global Campus Senior Writer

Abigail Chandos

As Abigail Chandos graduated from WSU Global Campus on May 4, she reflected on her journey to earning her degree. Serving as the President of ASWSUG, Global Campus’ student government, Chandos has excelled in her classes and thrived in a high-pressure environment while also raising her young son.

Shortly after addressing her fellow Global Campus Cougs in a speech at commencement, she wants students to know that she’s faced many challenges as well.

“Mental Health has been a big hurdle for me on my journey to graduation. It’s taken years of work to overcome, and I believe it’s important for me to share my experiences,” Chandos said. “I want other students to know that they are not alone, and that they can conquer similar challenges and thrive as well.”

After high school, Chandos decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree at the University of Montana. The transition proved to be more difficult than she anticipated.

“I knew it would be difficult being away from home and my support structure, but I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me,” she said. “It wasn’t long before my class load started to overwhelm me, and serious depression and anxiety started to take hold.”

According to Chandos, her emotional state continued to decline until two good friends encouraged her to seek help. Although Chandos initially accepted their advice, she did not fully understand the gravity of her situation. Before long, she found herself in crisis mode.

Abigail Chandos graduated May 4, 2024

One of her friends, worried for her safety, persuaded Chandos to check into a hospital for mental health evaluation and treatment. “Looking back, I don’t think I’d be here is it weren’t for that moment,” said Chandos, “It truly saved my life, and I’m so grateful for that.”

After being treated for depression and anxiety in the hospital, she decided to finish out her current semester, but then take an extended break from higher education.

“I was more stable, but I knew I couldn’t continue with college at that time,” she said. “There were a lot of feelings that hadn’t gone away.”

Chandos took a seven-year break from her college education. During that time, she grappled with self-doubt and fear of returning to school.

“Fear held me back for a long time,” she said. “I wondered if I wasn’t good enough or if I couldn’t handle it.”

 Eventually, Chandos’ passion for higher education won out, and she resolved to complete her degree.

“By that time, my son was born, and I decided that online learning would be the best option for me,” said Chandos. “When I discovered WSU Global Campus, I knew it was the right fit, but I was still nervous.”

Chandos initially worried that online learning would be isolating, raising concerns about her past mental health struggles.

“When I started though, it wasn’t at all what I expected,” she said. “There was so much support, options for engaging, and a huge and active Global Campus Coug community to get involved with. I really loved this community and got more and more involved over time. I think it really helped me to thrive.”

Although Chandos still faced challenges in balancing school and family life, she was better equipped to manage them this time around.

“I had a stronger support system that helped me tackle anxiety and time management challenges. I also understood myself better due to my past experiences and was able to address my mental health more proactively,” she said. “The Global Campus community was also so great and supportive, and I knew that there was mental health support and resources, if I ever needed them.”

Abigail, right, and her son, Noah

During her term as ASWSUG president, Chandos took it upon herself to promote and advocate for WSU Global Campus mental health resources whenever possible. These included a set of online mental health and wellbeing tools, financial reimbursements for mental health expenses, and WSU’s Wellbeing Online program.

“Isolation played a big role in my past struggles,” said Chandos. “But as a Global Campus student, you don’t have to be alone. I highly recommend getting involved and talking advantage of the many resources available, both mental health-related and otherwise.”

“There’s so much to take advantage of, including community events, academic support and tutoring, and even emergency financial resources. Be sure to get involved and to get the support you need,” she said.

Chandos also encouraged students to reach out to those around them if they are struggling with mental health challenges.

“It can be intimidating and overwhelming to seek help, but I strongly encourage reaching out to someone you trust,” said Chandos. It can change your life for the better, and I speak from personal experience.”

Learn more about ASWSUG’s mental health and wellbeing resources on their mental health web page.

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