Mentally Unprepared

Megan Prevost, Biotechnology Major

Going away to college is a big change, one of the first changes that most teenagers go through before adulthood, especially if you’re living on campus or far away from home. Everything is so different. You can’t drive home every weekend and you have to rely on yourself and your own motivation to get things done. It isn’t an easy task and most of the time it can be very overwhelming at the beginning. These new changes put a stress on students that can sometimes be too hard to handle. This can lead to problems with mental health and even illnesses that go untreated. Having a mental illness in a stressful situation can usually be brushed aside: “I’ll stop feeling so anxious once I turn in this paper,” “I’m not depressed, I’m just worried about my grades.”

It may seem shocking but one in four college students have a diagnosable illness. That’s too many. Here at SMCC we have approximately 7,000 students. According to this statistic, 1,750 students here have a diagnosable mental illness. And forty percent of those people don’t seek help. They don’t think too much of it because college is known for how stressful it is because it’s so different from high school. It’s just expected that they be stressed or depressed on anxious about what’s going on. But there’s a line. There’s a line between just feeling worried and upset that you’re not going to do well and being so stressed out it’s causing you depression and anxiety. College is a new chapter in your life; it should be fun. Maybe a little overwhelming, but not to this point.

Eighty percent of college students are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and being this overwhelmed, or taking on too much can be a bridge to mental health problems. Students often don’t know their limit. They think that taking sixteen to eighteen credits, balancing a thirty-hour a-week job and keeping up their social status is going to be something that’s doable. And here’s the truth: it’s not. It’s hard to balance everything, and this is what’s causing students to have these mental health disorders.

Anxiety is said to be the biggest health concern among college students. The times cited a recent study that found more than 100,000 students seeking help at campus clinics because of their anxiety problems. And these are just the students that seek out help; many don’t. Dan Jones, a counselor at Appalachian State University said, “A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.” The percentage of students seeking mental health help has risen from 17% to 24% just since 2010.

Other mental health issues common in college students include depression, social isolation, mood instability, attention difficulties and financial problems. This is clearly a growing problem that doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon. College causes a stress in the lives of students that sometimes seems like it can’t be managed. Many college campuses have programs or places to go when these problems arise. Some even have classes that are supposed to help students out their first year to keep this stress from occurring. It’s all about taking care of yourself and that’s something most students forget to do.

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