November 23, 2017

World Mental Health Day: College students and the importance of mental health awareness

Take a moment. Breathe slowly. Count to ten, then backwards. Access your mental state. Address your heart rate.

October 10 is World Mental Health Day. It highlights the importance of doing these things to help those struggling with a mental illness. It is not just today that you should do this; it’s everyday. While these are small things, they can lead to the assessment of bigger issues that bring better results. As college students, the idea of mental health should not go untouched.

I have experienced different struggles of balance within my school career that I’m sure many have as well. It is hard to balance school, a job, social life and time to one’s self. This can take a huge toll on a student’s mental health. In fact, National Alliance on Mental Illness says most mental illnesses reveal themselves before the age of 24, making college a critical time in one’s life to take those moments to access your mental state of well being.

College can invite opportunities to get access to drugs and alcohol on top of the anxiety that’s paired with being away from home and extreme academic pressures. All of these things can lead to depression or even suicide. Data collected by Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health says 33.2 percent of college students considered suicide.  Millennials in particular are more prone to depression and anxiety, according to Judith Green, director of the Center for Health & Counseling services at Ramapo College. Because millennials are growing up in a world where the internet is at their fingertips, instant gratification breeds frustration and irritability, among other miscellaneous reasons.  But this doesn’t mean the struggle is over.

I have more than one friend who have confessed to me their struggles as students in college, and I applaud them for speaking up. Most of them are dealing with what each and every college student deals with at some point: anxiety due to immense stress. Talking to friends, family, coworkers or any confidant will make a huge difference in your life or others.  The most important take-away from this topic is the idea of speaking out about your thoughts and feelings and seeking professional or personal help.

Webster University offers free counseling to students, staff and faculty. Their office is on the Webster Groves home campus at 540 Garden Avenue. You can call their office at (314) 968-7030 or email at  counselingld@webster.edu. Make your appointment, all in complete confidentiality.

Do not be afraid to speak out about your struggles. College students are bound to mental illness, but they are also bound for strength.

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