Jan 13, 2020 02:48 PM EST
The Truth About the College Mental Health Crisis
We see jokes online about college, and they usually revolve around the stress of having student debt and surviving challenging courses. Ask any student, and you'll most likely be met with the grim reality that they're dealing with much more than it looks.
As young adults, we're expected to enter the top colleges, go beyond expectations, all while balancing a healthy lifestyle and diet. Everyone talks about getting good grades, but no one addresses the elephant in the room: the mental sacrifice students make to meet the criteria.
We have a mental health crisis in college, and it can't be ignored any longer. We're here to find out what it is, what's causing it, and what options we have to treat and prevent it.
College Mental Breakdowns
A mental breakdown or a nervous breakdown is described as a period of intense psychological distress. During this time, it is a challenge to function in everyday life. Students who are under pressure to excel academically are experiencing this, sometimes without realizing this. It is worse when it is normalized as a part of everyday college life.
Whether they are aware of their condition or they brush it off, how they handle it can have a major impact. A mental breakdown can lead to an array of habits that can hurt the student, their academic performance, and other aspects of their lives.
At a minimum, students are known to experience changes in weight, have trouble sleeping, or consume junk food or full spectrum cbd tincture and CBD balm oil to calm the nerves. However, it can lead to more severe consequences, such as depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol addiction, and even self-harm and suicide.
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
It is usual for students to experience mild stress or anxiety at least sometime during their college years. However, one in five students experiences debilitating anxiety and depression. What also isn't normal is that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students worldwide. 90% of those who commit suicide have a mental disorder that has been left untreated.
The leading cause of deaths among college-age students are accidents, many of which are alcohol-related. Alcohol is consumed by over 60% of college students monthly. Since they are vulnerable, students are being killed by alcohol both actively (by binge drinking) and passively (by car accidents).
The culture of pressure, expectations, and instability that can leave students vulnerable. No matter the leading causes, it can be traced back to undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions in college students. Is college to blame?
What is Causing it?
Depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain likely caused by a combination of genetics and biological, psychological, and environmental factors. According to a 2013 survey, depression is the number one reason students drop out of school. As to what is causing, here are some theories:
It's hard to say this without sounding like a baby boomer, but it's true: our phones and social media statuses are running our lives. On top of college stress, we're exposed to bad news 24/7, we experience intense feelings of F.O.M.O., and our endless scroll robs us of our limited free time and sleep.
Attending college with students of different backgrounds is an enriching experience you can't get in most places. The downside is that minority and international students experience unique forms of stress that their peers cannot relate to. We're applying to the same expectations to everyone, regardless of how unstable their lives may be.
Experts have noted that the historical and cultural circumstances through which Millennials and Gen-Zers were raised have created an era of heightened parental control and protection. In an effort to ensure their children never have to deal with problematic events, many times, they miss out on developing the abilities to cope with stress.
Recognizing the Signs
According to the APA, the most common signs of depression include (but not limited to):
Changes in your sleeping pattern such as oversleeping or insomnia
Appetite changes; a loss of appetite or overeating
Body aches or fatigue
Consistent feelings of sadness
Difficulty completing everyday tasks
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
If students are experiencing these symptoms, they should discuss them with their healthcare provider. Only a healthcare professional is qualified to diagnose someone with depression. They can help students determine if they are experiencing any mental health issues and the best course of treatment.
How Can We Manage College-related Stress?
Get Mental Health Support
The good news is that we no longer live in a time where mental health conditions are stigmatized. Many campuses are raising mental health awareness and offer services to help their student body.
Cut Down on Phone Use
Not only will it stop you from comparing yourself, but you'll also have more free time and better quality sleep. Moderation is key.
Ditch the Productivity Culture
You don't have to make everyone happy. Focus on yourself and your obligations, and allow yourself to take a break instead of always having to be productive. Trust us; the world can wait.
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