“College/ university life,” young, enthusiastic individuals freshly out of school are either excited for this new phase of their lives or tend to think of it as another societal hurdle they need to overcome.
There’s a lot of stress that new students end up experiencing because they’re going into a different educational setting and they want to prove themselves.
Whether it’s worrying about academics or their college-related social life, college/university affects everyone in different ways and thus, comes with its own set of pros and cons. Students are subject to varying levels of stress and other mental illnesses that need to be addressed.
“There’s just so much pressure when you’re a first year student. You have this drive to prove yourself but at the same time you don’t want to stand out the wrong way. There’s nothing more stressful than being the student everyone jokes about,” said Stacey Wilson (Film and Digital Media student at Santa Cruz, California).
“Dealing with college/university life is tough enough. Add in the drama that goes on at home and everything just gets tougher for any student,” said Janene Secor (English Major from The Ohio State University)
Youth Are Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues
Parents and students might not have mental illness on their mind when they start college; however, such a period of young adulthood is a crucial one for mental health. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 75% mental illnesses are triggered by the age of 24. Some are triggered in adolescence and some start in college/university.
Furthermore, in 2012, one in five people from 43.8 million adults experienced some type of mental illness. That’s why knowing about mental illness and how it is triggered is important especially when it comes to students.
Around 95% of the directors of the college counselling centre have stated that the number of students with psychological problems in an increasing concern on campus. About 70% of the directors also believe that the number of students who are a victim of major psychological problems has increased in recent times.
Similarly, the rates of depression and anxiety have also increased compared to the previous decade. According to a survey involving college students, being conducted in 2013, found that 40% of men and 57% of women experienced overwhelming anxiety while 27% of men and 33% of women experienced episodes of severe depression that made functioning difficult for them.
Studies also suggest that almost one-third of students fulfill the criteria for depression or anxiety while they are in college.
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
Depression is stated as the biggest reason of disability across the world which affects around 300 million people globally. Yet, mental health is still stigmatised greatly in our society.
When people talk about their mental illness in society, they can face stigmas although these are starting to fall.
Many studies also agree that to end the discrimination against those with mental ill health, it is important that people are provided with the right education about mental health conditions.
Furthermore, increasing the accessibility of treatment and screening of psychological problems is crucial for college going students.
In some cases, children that are diagnosed with mental health disorders end up with poor educational outcomes and thus, poor economic outcomes as well. This varies from person to person.
Offering Students the Support They Need
Research quite clearly states how strong behavioural and mental health supports can improve the life of a student.
When the students get help for psychological problems, then counselling can have a big impact on personal well-being, retention, and academic success.
Offering Mental Health Facilities in Colleges
It is being observed that students have started to utilize the counselling services provided by colleges/universities in a much more positive manner and more frequently. However, there has been a stigma-based backlash from a few college administrators and professors that call their students less resilient and needy because the students use these services.
This attitude is the reason why a majority of students refrain from asking for help, and this is what colleges exactly need to eradicate.
Many colleges/universities have started introducing programmes that directly challenge the prejudice and ableism by not discriminating against students that are struggling with mental illness. Colleges should aim to make mental health care accessible to everyone just like UCLA in America has.
Colleges should aim to provide free mental health treatment and screenings for all of their students. UCLA has started off their efforts of educating their faculty and students about mental illness by holding a voluntary sessions for students to determine if they need help with their mental health.
If a student shows signs of depression, UCLA will provide them with therapeutic services for free, according to the chancellor Gene Block. UCLA has also decided to provide their students with an eight-week programme on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is a goal-oriented, focused, and short-term therapeutic treatment that asks for collaboration between the therapist and patient. This doesn’t work for everyone, but is a good start.
Due to the kind of burden a lot of students feel by starting college, it is important that those vulnerable students with mental health issues have the tools and resources they need to cope with stress, anxiety, depression or other psychological issues.
The treatment program, as well as the online screening, is considered as the first campus-wide screening program for mental health conducted at any university. By catching depression in the early ages, officials of UCLA hope to significantly reduce the damage that the illness does in the early-adult years.
Garen Staglin, the co-chair of the leadership council of the Depression Grand Challenge, hopes that the efforts made by UCLA encourage other institutions and businesses to also focus on mental health issues.
The efforts made by UCLA in Los Angeles, USA have not been futile; Larry Moneta, the vice president of the student affairs at Duke University is quite interested in how UCLA will help its students.
“I’m incredibly glad about UCLA’s mental health screening initiative. Mental health issues need to be destigmatized, especially in academic settings so students can comfortably seek the help they’re in need of. I hope other’s implement such programs too,” said Katherine Bracken (English and Theatre student at The Ohio State University)
Arslan Butt currently works for https://www.CanadianPharmacyWorld.com, has a passion for keeping up-to-date regarding the latest health and lifestyle trends. He likes going on long walks, trying out new healthy eating regimes, and working out.