Mental health problems are a damaging yet prominent issue, especially amongst college students.
Instead of ignoring the key factors of mental illnesses, the university community should embrace the victims in order for them to receive help.
College is one of the greatest experiences 18-22 year olds will face.
Multiple areas of a student’s life change as they move away from home and are challenged with an overwhelming amount of responsibility.
Although you could say, “college is the best years of your life,” this is a misleading statement because college is the one of the most stressful experiences.
Trying to figure out how to live on your own and balance achieving good grades, making new friends and living a healthy lifestyle is practically impossible.
With a huge load thrown on college students’ shoulders, the stress can cause them to develop a mental illness or cause a preexisting one to become less manageable.
Constantly doing homework, campus organization activities, work or social activities limits the amount of sleep students get, which is a huge factor for developing a mental illness, according to Psychology Today.
The American College Health Association surveys college students each year, and found within the last 12 months, 30.3 percent of college students reported experiencing stress, 21.8 percent anxiety and 13.5 percent depression significant enough to affect their academic performance.
“Being social, having a job and taking classes is a lot,” said senior business major Courtney Collins. “All of that mixed together can cause us students to mentally beat ourselves up.”
When a student goes from the easy, high school busy work to college classes where only a few exams and projects make up one’s grade, time is limited and stress is highly weighted.
Typically, a full semester load includes between 12 to 21 credit hours; for a student to try to succeed in all of their classes, mental stability and organization are required.
Having to balance just taking classes can often be too much and cause an individual to feel weak minded.
Also, for many incoming freshman, going from having their best friends and family by their side every day to knowing no one around campus is not only intimidating but can cause them to feel completely alone.
When a person feels there is no one there for them, depression and loneliness begin to creep in, which causes him or her to suffer.
Another key factor to a student’s poor mental health is balance.
College is a time for new experiences.
Often a student will try different things such as Greek life, campus organizations, athletic events and parties.
With the exceeding involvement students can find themselves putting their academic performance at the end of the spectrum.
In dealing with all the stresses college can lay on a student, many will develop a mental health problem and seek harmful ways to cope.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) believes the most common mental health issues faced by college students are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and ADHD.
Many adults between the ages of 18 to 22 will experience either major or minor cases of depression or anxiety but will not seek help.
NAMI recorded that 50 percent of college students rate their mental health to be below average or poor.
Relating the statistic to APSU, which accommodates more than 10,000 students, suggests that over 5,000 students at the university struggle with obtaining a healthy mindset.
On average, half the students at any given university will struggle with a mental health issue.
Each individual deals with his or her illness in a unique form.
Some coping mechanisms can be extremely dangerous, such as harming oneself through physical pain or attempting suicide.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center confirms that during 2012, 7.7 percent of undergraduate and graduate students seriously considered committing suicide.
Unfortunately, many people do not understand the various reasons why college students develop a mental illness.
With the lack of understanding, comes less aid to the victims.
“No one wants to claim they have a mental health issue because there is a lack of help,” said freshman human health performance major Marin Shank. “People do not take it serious. It’s easy for us to brush our peers’ problems off and say, ‘Just smile.’ We think depression is the individual’s choice, but it’s way more than that,” Shank said.
The best way to help classmates overcome depression or other mental health problems is to introduce the idea of counseling.
Unfortunately, due to the stigma society has created against counseling, people are intimidated to go.
However, as stated on APSU’s website, counseling at APSU is personal and private.
It is a safe place for a student to talk out one’s feelings and the stresses of college without being pressured.
To aid those who are suffering from a mental illness, APSU offers counseling services for all the students enrolled at the university.
Counseling at APSU adheres to the belief that each individual’s mental illness is different; therefore, the sessions are focused on what best helps the individual rather than the problem in general.
“In our clinic, we take what’s called a ‘bio-psychosocial perspective’ on each individual to try and identify particular areas of vulnerability—biological, familial, psychological, emotional, mental, behavioral, relational and so on—so we can intervene at just the right level,” said Director of Student Counseling and Health Services, Jeff Rutter.
The university offers up to 12 counseling services a year for free.
The service offers both individual and group counseling according to the APSU’s website.
APSU’s counseling services run on a confidentiality basis, so what is shared between an individual and a counselor is kept between the two.
Whether a person just needs to vent out their feelings once or weekly throughout the semester, these services provide a safety net for the student to just talk.
Rutter said he stresses for students to visit the website at apsu.edu/counseling.
“We have a great online screening tool there under ‘Resources,’” Rutter said. “It takes less than two minutes to complete and is taken anonymously.”
Although counseling can provide the necessary aid to the victims of mental health problems, those who are suffering need more to fully treat their illness.
For those on the outside, simply being a shoulder to cry on or an ear to talk to does wonders for individuals facing depression or anxiety.
“Being closely, deeply listened to and being loved are so similar that most people can’t tell the difference,” Rutter said.
College is an overwhelming time in an individual’s life, filled with lots of difficult tasks to overcome.
Sometimes the overload can be too much.
However, with the loving guidance from classmates and the university’s aid, students who are suffering can overcome stereotypes and conquer the blocks to good health.