Enthusiasm to excel in life, a decisive urge to learn new things, enjoying the moment of “been there, done that,” and experiencing an adrenaline rush by doing exciting things is what describes the life of a college student. Ironically, as the globalized world banks on its youth population, there has been a significant rise in the number of college students grappling with serious mental health problems.
Treatable mental health illness and related behavior problems have increased considerably in college students. In the process of trying to juggle school, work, friends, and family while trying to figure out the rest of the life, college students are gradually facing problems of depression and anxiety disorders. In the past decade, this shift has not only solidified, it has reached increasingly higher levels.
A 2013 survey sponsored by the American College Counseling Association found that 95 percent of counseling center directors reported seeing a greater number of students with severe psychological problems than in previous years, and 73 percent noted increases in the number of crises requiring immediate response. This survey has been quoted by the Boston University’s news website in an article, titled “Mental Health Matters: A growing challenge.”
In a 2010 survey conducted by the American College Health Association, highlighted by American Psychological Association on its website, 45.6 percent of the students surveyed reported feeling that things were hopeless and 30.7 percent said they felt so depressed that it was difficult to function during the past 12 months. The most common of these disorders faced by college students were depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and self-injury.
The intertwining matrix of causes
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental disorders treated at college counseling centers. Mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders and psychotic disorders have also been found among students battling with stress. An often overlooked but equally serious problem is the rising number of students struggling with eating disorders, substance abuse, and self-injury.
Mental health crisis can be triggered by a multitude of social and academic stresses. For example, the pressure to do something well in life or carrying the burden of financial instabilities can be a cause for a student’s deteriorating mental health. Not being able to relate to emotional experiences, or how to deal with harsh conditions in a way that is adaptive, aggravates a student’s mental condition. Disagreements with friends, roommates, failure in relationships, getting poorer grades in class, or experiencing constant ridicule by fellow batchmates or teachers can also increase the levels of stress and anxiety.
Social media has also become a primal cause of worry in the recent years, as not being able to maintain a status on such platforms is also leading students to experience a psychological phenomenon called FOMO, or the fear of missing out.
Lifestyle habits in college students, like eating patterns, sexual activity, sleeping and drinking are also showing evidence of increasing maladaptive patterns. For example, sleep deprivation is quite common in college life. Sleep deprivation should not be taken lightly as it’s significantly associated with mental health problems. Certain signs in a student reflect the mental disturbance which should not be ignored like:
- Withdrawal from social events and communication.
- Overall changes in behavioral patterns.
- Carelessness about bodily appearances (not taking bath, poor hygiene etc.).
- Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping.
- Signs of self-injury.
- Increasing substance abuse.
- Social media posts alluding to suicide.
Simple strategies to cope with college stress
To overcome the stressful lives, college students can follow some simple methods to stay positive:
- Taking time out: Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear unruly thoughts.
- Eating balanced food: Do not skip any meal. Keep healthy and energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine: These drinks can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Enough sleep: When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Daily exercise: It will help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Do your best: Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Welcome humor: A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude: Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Talk to someone: Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Support and care to boost positivity
The college period is highly susceptible, as students find it demoralizing to express any kind of mental problems they face during this stage. They are often reluctant to seek any help due to the social stigmas prevalent in the society. Colleges can play an important role in helping students combat their mental problems. A college can provide information to the campus community on how common mental health conditions are and the importance of getting help; help students in contacting family, friends and their support network; share resources on how to manage stress, maintain mental and physical health and wellness and cope with negative feelings. All a student need is some support from the college authorities, teachers, parents, friends and peers.
Clinically, the best treatments for college-going students suffering from mental trauma are usually a combination of antidepressant medications and talk therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. If you or your loved one is feeling the heat of college and social pressure, it’s time to seek immediate help. Sovereign Mental Health Services provides the highest quality care in mental health by using advanced medicinal and therapeutic techniques and ensures that anyone seeking to overcome his struggle with mental health can be assisted. For more information, please call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529.