University and Mental Health
University students are vulnerable to mental health issues since they are often living away from home for the first time and dealing with the rigors of adult life. Having good mental health will allow them to adapt and manage the changes and challenges that come with academic and day-to-day life.
According to research, 61 percent of youngsters reported that they felt more lonely after the pandemic than ever. Seven out of ten teenagers said they struggled with mental health issues in some form. As a result, students’ perceptions of colleges and universities have shifted due to the mental health crisis. When considering which school to attend, many young people are now paying closer attention to the mental health facilities available on campus.
How Can Beginning University Trigger a University Student’s Mental Health?
The average age of onset for many mental health issues is in their early twenties. Furthermore, if someone has risk factors, significant life events can act as triggers for a disorder. With these two elements in mind, it’s no surprise that mental health issues commonly begin at the university level.
Even if a person does not develop a formal disorder, they may nevertheless have difficulties. It’s hard to deal with the stress of the college transition. A teenager who is coming from the safety nest of their parents would be entering a highly competitive world. The life-altering change is sometimes a lot to deal with. A mental health crisis might be brought on by a demanding workload, unfamiliar surroundings, or other stressors.
Even before they enroll at a university, teenagers and young people have mental health issues. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the number of adolescents seeking mental health care increased in 2015 compared to the preceding decade,
Furthermore, one in every five students has a current mental health diagnosis. In addition, the poll discovered that:
- Fifty percent of the students who voted had a major psychiatric problem that necessitated professional care.
- Students in their second and third years of university were more likely to experience anxiety, loneliness, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts than first-year students.
- Nearly half of students said they had considered self-harm.
- More than three-quarters said they had hidden their symptoms for fear of being judged.
Keeping the rising numbers in mind, it is high time that we try to look at mental health from a university student’s perspective.
Causes of Mental Health Issues in the Life of a College Student
There are several factors at play, including academic pressure, financial stress, employment instability, social media, managing relationships, and much more.
Many university students are under a lot of pressure to be on top of their academics. In a challenging academic setting, the desire to earn excellent marks can contribute to increased stress and anxiety. Students, especially those who procrastinate, may overwork themselves and disregard their personal well-being. Procrastination might serve as a harmful coping method for students who are worried about their grades.
Students may also feel compelled to plan ahead and choose a career path. Since they have invested so much time and money in their education, they may feel forced to seek a full-time job after they graduate.
Many parents take out loans for their children to pay for tuition, accommodation, and other expenses. Students may get concerned about the financial situation as they get anxious about repaying these loans after graduation.
On top of that, textbooks and other supplies are expensive. To cover these fees, students may need to perform one or more jobs while in college. Trying to balance employment and school might lead to increased stress and anxiety.
Increased Use of Social Media
Today, students spend more time online and on social media, which has negative implications. Harassment and cyberbullying are major causes of increasing stress levels among college students.
The posts uploaded on a social media site can damage a person’s self-esteem by prompting them to compare their lives to those of others who appear to have it all. Hence, students drown in the negativity of low self-esteem, body shaming, feeling of worthlessness, and much more.
University is a time of significant transition in relationships, and it can be challenging to let go of and leave high school acquaintances. It takes time and effort to form new connections; some people bond right away, but this isn’t always the case.
Many college relationships are formed through trial and error. A lot of people are interested in determining whether connections are rewarding, nurturing, and fulfilling. The feelings of fear of abandonment, acceptance, rejection, etc., take a toll on every university student.
Some Warning Signs to Look Out For
You should never suffer in silence because plenty of aid is available, both inside and beyond your university. Admitting that you are having trouble is the first step toward getting help.
These are some of the warning signals to keep an eye out for:
Facing Difficulty in Engaging
Excessive sleeping, a lack of desire to go out or do anything, or a sense of hopelessness about the future can all be indicators of depression. For some, this may manifest itself as poor academic achievement, a refusal to participate in college life, or a general lack of interest.
No matter how much work you put in, you’re worrying too much. Excessive concern, overworking, studying, or over-preparing, even if you’re weary since you’re afraid of not accomplishing or being enough. You may be dealing with anxiety if you find yourself in any negative thought patterns, especially if you feel burned out.
Dependence on substances has increased
If you or a close friend drinks excessively to numb feelings, it could indicate a problem with substance use or possible abuse. If you realize that you’re becoming more reliant on substances like alcohol and drugs, it indicates that you have a mental health problem that needs to be treated.
The shifting nature of your relationship with food
If your relationship with food makes you unhappy or causes problems in your daily life, it might signify something. You may have an eating disorder if you avoid social situations when there is food, binge then purges, or exercise excessively. Thus, it is vital to keep a check on your eating habits.
Self-injury or self-harm are signs that your mental health requires some love and attention. Cutting, picking at skin, and taking risks that could end in injury are just a few examples.
Reiterate your love and support if you or a loved one is committing acts of self-harm. It’s critical to understand there are options available to assist them cope with their mental health challenges in non-harmful ways.
You may reach a point where you believe the world would be a better place without you or that life has lost its meaning. Please get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, your therapist, or a friend or family member if you have suicidal thoughts.
How Can You Manage Your Mental Health?
Putting mental health first has been demonstrated to be critical. Even if mental health services aren’t provided on campus, students need to be able to manage their mental health.
The following are suggestions for dealing with mental health issues, whether students are on or off-campus.
Organize your time
As students are confronted with a fast-paced learning environment, effective time management is proved to be a vital skill. Academic success is dependent on effective time management. It is critical to managing time and energy, and mental health. Staying organized before things pile up is easier with the help of a time management tool. Creating a consistent schedule not only helps to minimize daily stress but also promotes general mental health.
Make fruitful friendships.
There is a lot taking place in the world of relationships for a college student. It is okay if you are missing old high school buddies, as well as the familiarity and comfort with which those relationships were formed. Allow yourself some time to settle into discovering groups of individuals with whom you love spending time as you develop new friendships.
Take some time to think about which connections make you happy. It’s possible that a friendship isn’t a good fit if it feels out of balance or drains your positive energy. Develop bonds through extracurricular activities such as clubs, activities, community interest groups, etc.
Meditation and Mindfulness
University routine can be stressful, making it easy to get distracted from your own likes and dislikes. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent technique to decrease stress while also improving memory and focus. Meditation has also been demonstrated to aid in the treatment of anxiety problems and improve mental health care.
The use of drugs and alcohol should be avoided
Rather than seeking mental health therapy, some students turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of an untreated mental illness. Substances may provide temporary relief from symptoms but have long-term negative consequences. Drugs and alcohol can exacerbate or cause symptoms, resulting in an increase in mental health issues.
Make good use of mental health services.
Obtaining mental health care from a counseling clinic carries a stigma for many students. On the other hand, seeking aid is a sign of strength, not weakness. Students must give themselves the time and space to figure out how to manage their mental health in the best way possible.
If you are going through this complex transition, don’t hesitate to contact us.