The Mental Health Crisis
Most people consider college to be the time of their lives. For most kids, it is the first opportunity for them to experience freedom from parental supervision, to create new friendships, and to learn about the real world by making their own decisions. Many students are more recently developing mental health issues after embarking on their college career. The fear of not achieving one’s potential certainly can send a new and inexperienced college student into a mental whirlpool. In fact, anxiety and depression are the two most recognized diagnoses among college students. Students report feeling anxious from fear of not performing well enough in their classes or having too much work and little time to complete it because of poor time management. This can result in sinking grades which often cause some to feel depressed as if it is the end for them when it is clearly not.
According to BestColleges.com, 80% of college students reveal that they feel extremely overwhelmed by their responsibilities in general, and 50% of these individuals experience extreme anxiety which manifests itself in academic struggles. This results in an increasing number of students struggle with the effects of this stress on their mental health and demonstrate signs of mental instability which ultimately affects their quality of life. Symptoms are extremely important to recognize, and, the sooner they are recognized, the better the outcome. People suffering from depression often have feelings of sadness or are unhappy all of the time. A lot of students know a friend or acquaintance who is clearly suffering from one of these serious illnesses. It’s extremely difficult to approach a friend who you believe is suffering because the risk of offending them or hurting their feelings. Students have to be taught that helping out someone who is suffering is much more important than the risk of someone taking offense to your concerns.
The general public must be aware of mental illnesses, too. For sure, the more people who are aware of the signs and symptoms, obviously, the more people can intervene to help friends who struggle with the illnesses. Ultimately, this can save lives! In other words, the more educated the general public is about the dangers of stressors in college life and the behaviors associated with it, the better equipped the community will be to identify and assist those struggling. Getting the word to others is a paramount step in promoting mental health. Henriques agrees with this mentality and stresses the importance of being educated properly on the signs and the general descriptions of these diseases. He believes that many people would benefit greatly from learning about the disease in order to help themselves and others. It does not stop with awareness, though, as the assessment of one’s mental health is necessary, too.
Carrie Landa, director of Behavioral Medicine at BU, explains that “The demand for service has absolutely increased and that’s a national trend.” She further points out that “Students are not only coming to school with preexisting mental health issues, but with additional stressors and anxieties about performance and fitting in socially.” Clearly, steps need to be taken to prevent these dangers.
An expert, Dr. Gregg Henriques from Psychology Today demonstrates various solutions to help alleviate this problem among those suffering and to help those who are at risk for developing more severe anxiety. Henriques shares a solution when he reveals, “My vision to address the CSMHC (College Student Mental Health Crisis) is to develop a resiliency initiative that functions to reverse the trend of mental health deterioration and fosters much greater levels of resiliency, well-being and adaptive living among college students”. Students need to develop strategies to help them better assimilate to the college life, which, in turn, will help them to “bounce back” after a stressful situation or time period.
Henrique believes in a proactive approach that advocates the assessment of current students to “check in” to be sure that the college experience is a positive one. This is a sort of screening process to identify those who are at risk before the problem exacerbates. We need to start with what is already broken before we fix the whole problem. He also emphasizes the significance of focusing on and making mental health a high priority issue. As a result of this high priority status, potential for some fixing will grow and help improve the lives of college students. College is an opportunity for individuals to grow emotionally, socially, and academically. In order for this growth to prevail, the mental illness dilemma cannot be ignored. Collaboration and communication along with awareness and assessment are essential in addressing this growing problem of mental illness among college students.
More and more students every day make the realization that they are struggling with their mental health and luckily are starting to seek help. More students are seeking help, but more needs to be done to minimize the effects of this mental epidemic. Being mentally stable is probably one of the most important aspects of a student’s life, especially in college. Teachers, families, friends and the general public can come together and make students suffering mentally feel more comfortable and help them fix the problems that they are living with.