Student Body President John Kirk opens up about his mental health

By Melanie Rivera-Cortez | The Sunflower

Student Body President John Kirk has dealt with many difficulties with mental health over the years. After confronting his mental health, the 116th student body president said he began going to counseling to help heal his inner child.

“I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m comfortable with telling people where I’ve been and who I am,” Kirk said.

Throughout his adolescence and adult life, familial issues have been a struggle for Kirk.  He lost his father young, which fragmented his relationship with his mother and in turn impacted his other relationships.

“My whole life I’ve always struggled with like being forgotten or being lost,” Kirk said.“I have a hard time connecting and thinking that when people are coming to me to want to talk they’re not at the end of the day going to leave as well,” Kirk said.

During his grade school years, Kirk said he struggled with suicidal ideation. He was diagnosed as a diabetic from a young age and would up his insulin dosage as a form of self-harm.

Kirk said he has suffered from other medical problems aside from his diabetes that made him live under constant stress. 

“I know what it’s like to feel completely alone,” Kirk said. 

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it also took a toll on Kirk’s mental health.

“I just like being out, so being contained in one room basically all the time, drove me absolutely nuts,” Kirk said. 

To manage emotions and create a better work-to-life balance, Kirk signed up for counseling through Wichita State’s Counseling and Prevention Services (CAPS) program. The stigma that surrounds counseling and therapy was another obstacle for Kirk to tackle.

“(I thought) why the hell am I gonna talk to somebody about my problems? I can’t even talk about myself with my own problems,” Kirk said. 

Creating a work-life balance at these sessions helped Kirk manage the stress of his education and job.

“I would literally be sitting at home, be doing something, I get an email on my phone and I’m like going right to it,” Kirk said. 

Now, Kirk will only check his email during work hours. Relying on Student Body Vice President Mary Thorton has helped Kirk become better equipped to handle the stress of his job. He goes to his second-in-command for advice or to rant. 

“Sometimes, he just needs to sit and rant,” Thorton said. “As a president or vice president, it gets lonely because there’s a lot of things that you can’t tell anyone.” 

Kirk said that he does not know where he would be without his support system. Thorton said that creating a support system is based on finding people you can trust. 

“It’s nice to know that people actually care,” Kirk said. 

Kirk advises students to seek help if they need it.

“Everyone’s a person,” Kirk said. “Every person is a being, and every being is important.”

If interested in scheduling a CAPS appointment, go to

If you are in a crisis, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Sunflower