How to Understand Mental Health for College Students

By Madison White on October 19, 2019

Alkermes, a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in treating diseases like depression, addiction, and schizophrenia has released part one of a three-part series all about students and mental health concerns, according to a recent press release.

Because college is such a transitional time for students, they believe that being aware of the support systems offered to students can be instrumental in keeping students mentally healthy and focused on finishing their studies. Alkermes notes that “approximately 20% of college freshmen leave school before their sophomore year” and that this may largely be caused by the strain on students’ mental health.

The many changes that beginning a college career can sometimes cause students to neglect their mental health and prioritize other things like their grades, jobs, and social lives. However, these concerns are affecting a large portion of student populations and the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health International College Student Initiative estimates that around 35% of college freshmen show symptoms that are consistent with diagnosable mental health disorders. It is important for students to understand that mental health concerns are fairly common and not something they have to deal with on their own. Understanding how and where to receive help could make a massive difference when it comes to their well-being in all areas. One could assume that addressing these concerns when they arise may help students finish their degrees on time and with less stress.

In their press release, Alkermes focuses on five key areas that students should be aware of when evaluating their mental health. These range from talking with trusted individuals to seeking out support on campus.

The first key step that they touch on is to start talking. Many students are aware of the stress involved when transitioning into college, but sometimes the conversation ends there. Being open about your struggles with your friends and your family will help you feel better supported in your endeavors to improve your health. It may also even encourage them to evaluate themselves.

The second step is to create positive habits. In college, it is very easy to fall into a routine of staying up late, stressing over assignments, and eating unhealthy food. None of these things are good for your overall health, much less your mental health. Trying to stick to a healthy schedule and eating routines, alongside exercise, can really go a long way to keeping you mentally healthy.

The third step is to normalize the experience. Just like the statistics say, you definitely aren’t alone in dealing with mental health struggles. It is okay to feel the way that you do.

The fourth step is to seek out resources on campus. Each university will have a different set of options available to students, but most universities offer some sort of counseling services alongside tutoring or even mental health-related groups. Finding out what your university offers can make you feel better about knowing where to go to find the help you need.

The fifth and final step is to speak to a doctor. This may be someone that you have located on campus through student health services, or it could be your primary care provider. Being open and honest about your experiences with a medical professional can be a huge help. They will be able to offer you guidance and support.

Knowing the signs of mental health issues and intervening at the start can make a huge difference in your life as a student. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this struggle and that there is support for you.

Madison graduated with her Master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester (UK), and holds Bachelor's degrees in English and Creative Writing from Wichita State University. She currently teaches English at Wichita State University and works as a freelance writer and blogger on her website Madison White Writes and elsewhere.

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