Unique Mental Health Struggles for College Students

Across the nation, more students are manifesting signs of emotional and psychological distress, reflecting a confluence of a multitude of factors affecting the current generation of students, especially during the lockdown.

 

College and university students are at high risk for developing mental health issues, conditions that may affect their ability to think and feel. Severe mental health issues may affect students’ ability to perform daily functions and interact with other members of the community.

 

Traditional college students start college after completing high school, are typically younger, depend on parents for financial support, and do not work or work part-time. Thus, in addition to stress-related to academic load, these students may have to face the task of taking on more adult-like responsibilities without having yet mastered the skills and cognitive maturity of adulthood.

 

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Non-traditional college students are often employed full-time, older, and may have dependents other than their spouses. Thus, this group of students may have to cope with meeting work and family demands in addition to academic requirements. In these contexts, many college students may experience the persistence, exacerbation, or first onset of mental health and substance use problems while possibly receiving no or inadequate treatment.

 

The top five most common mental health challenges students face in college are:

 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Suicide

 

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric problems among college students, with approximately 11.9 % of college students suffering from an anxiety disorder. Second most common mental health problem among college students is depression, with prevalence rates in college students of 7 to 9 %. Suicide, although not a specific diagnosis, is the third leading cause of death among young adults and is a significant problem among college students. Unfortunately, the stigma of mental illness on campus can force students to stay silent about their hardships. 

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Experts and researchers use terms like crisis and epidemic to characterize the mental health challenges currently facing American college students. According to 2018 and 2019 student surveys from the American College Health Association (ACHA), about 60% of respondents felt “overwhelming” anxiety, while 40% experienced depression so severe they had difficulty functioning. 

 

Did you know that most psychological problems — even the more serious concerns — have high rates of recovery if appropriate help is received in time? Unfortunately, many students fail to get the help they need for any number of reasons, including lack of knowledge about the early warning signs of psychological distress, denial, stigma and lack of information about campus resources that can provide help.

 

If you become aware of a student who has mental health problem, consider the following tips and referrals:

 

  • Listen carefully and validate the student’s feelings and experiences.

 

  • Express your genuine concern for the student, focusing on specific behavior and/or changes you’ve observed (e.g., irregular class attendance, deteriorating academic performance, marks on their arms).

 

  • Allow the student to respond to your concerns and observations.

 

  • Be prepared for the student to deny any problem and to reject your help.

 

  • Encourage the student to use positive coping strategies to manage transition stress, including regular exercise, use of social support, a reasonable eating and sleeping regimen.

 

  • Refer a student to the Counseling Center. He or she may be feeling high levels of emotional pain, and may also be experiencing anxiety and/or depression. One goal of therapy is to help the student express their feelings and to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms to deal with their distress.

 

Knowing the warning signs of trouble, the early indicators of distress, how to respond in these situations and how to contribute to a healthy learning environment will greatly increase your ability to act appropriately in such situations, help improve another’s quality of life, and may even help save a life. 

5 Communication Traps and How to Avoid Them

Listening is one of the most important things that humans do. It has been estimated that listening takes up more that we fall into when in our waking hours than any other activity. 

 

The problem, however, is that most of us are not very good at listening. Researchers have claimed, in fact, that 75% of oral communication is either ignored, misunderstood, or quickly forgotten. So, we might tell each other things, but we do not necessarily listen.

 

Why is it that we are not naturally good at listening? It is because there are five common traps that we tend to fall into when we listen. How do we overcome these? By making sure we develop effective listening skills.

 

So, what are the five traps, and what are the listening skills to avoid them? 

 

Criticism 

 

Criticism is a guaranteed way to set up a conversation to fail. Critical comments (when unsolicited) paint the other person’s character in a bad light, usually to make someone right and someone wrong. These statements usually start with the word “YOU” followed by something negative.

 

Stonewalling

 

Stonewalling is a form of shutting down and withdrawing to escape conflict at all costs. While it looks like you’re trying to end the conflict, it conveys distance, disconnect, and creates an icy chill that leaves the other person feeling alone. 

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Misunderstanding

 

A common trap when listening is misunderstanding the other person or getting the message wrong. The listening skill to avoid this trap is to summarise and check. If you have understood correctly, you then proceed to the next part of the conversation. 

 

Lack of Empathy

 

When we get pulled into a “who is right and who is wrong” dynamic, it becomes increasingly difficult to really hear what your partner is saying, especially if you’re playing defense. We then begin listening to respond instead of listening to understand.

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Contempt

 

Contempt is extremely dangerous in relationships because it is intended to insult their character or cause harm. Contempt is like throwing the below-the-belt-punch or pouring salt on the wound. It is often spiteful and vindictive. 

 

All of these conversation traps are understandable. They are corners we get into when we’re feeling stressed, angry or frightened. Being aware of these communication traps can help you plan ahead and avoid driving down those dead-end roads. It also prevents either one of you from feeling trapped. 

 

How to Encourage Someone to See a Therapist

It is very hard to watch someone you love struggle with their mental health, its even worse when you know that professional help could benefit them greatly. But encouraging them to see a therapist puts you in a tricky situation. You might now know how to start that conversation fearing it could aggravate your loved one or turn them against you or the whole idea of seeking professional help. You may also worry that they might think you’re tired of listening to their problems, which is why you’re suggesting professional help.

As uncomfortable as it may be, sometimes people really do need someone with an outside perspective to encourage them to get help. They will also need that trusted friend and supporter to be there for them throughout the process. This can feel daunting, so here are some tips for encouraging your friend, colleague or loved one to seek out professional mental health support.

10 Sure Signs You Need To See A Therapist (And How To Find The Right One)

Show Love and Support

Misconception about mental health and therapy has intensified stigma in society. Your friend or loved one may be aware that they need help, but may be afraid to seek it if they think people will judge or treat them differently. Therefore, it is essential to use non-stigmatizing language when talking with them about their mental health. Assure them that they will have your support throughout the therapy process.

Anticipate Resistance

Not everyone will welcome the idea of seeking help or get on-board with attending therapy right away. It is important for you to prepare yourself for the fact that they just might not be ready yet.

If they do not consider therapy useful, share your personal experience with counselling, it might be helpful to draw from it. Empathize with them and understand the problems / issues they’re facing and gently remind them that everyone deserves support for their mental health if they’re struggling and that mental health challenges often have a greater chance of being resolved when they’re addressed early.

Offer Help

You can encourage your loved one to go to therapy, but unless you are willing to offer meaningful support, it’s not going to motivate them. They may not know where to start when seeking help. You can guide them in finding a suitable therapist in their area, depending on their preferences. You can contact offices on their behalf or research various professionals, their credibility and reviews. If your friend or loved isn’t comfortable going on, you can offer to go with them until they’re comfortable.

How to See a Psychologist or Psychiatrist | The Light Program

Seeking therapy is one of the best and timely steps that a person with a mental health condition can take. However, it’s an effort that requires great strength and courage. Do not be afraid of sharing your suggestions as openly as possible and leave them to make the decision that best suits their needs. No matter what decision they make, assure them of your continued love and support.

3 Excuses People Use to Avoid Getting Professional Help

Everyone feels sad or low sometimes, but these feelings usually pass with a little time. Depression—also called “clinical depression” or a “depressive disorder”—is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.

 

Major depression is when you’re having symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes. 

 

Have you been advised to seek professional help but have avoided getting treatment? Are you shy of asking for help? 

 

If yes, you’re not alone. About two-thirds of people with major depression never seek appropriate treatment, and the consequences can be devastating: personal suffering, missed work, broken marriages, health problems, and, in the worst cases, death.

 

The World Health Organization ranks depression as one of the world’s most disabling diseases. Yet with treatment, 70% of people with clinical depression can improve, often in a matter of weeks.

 

Depression and illness: Chicken or egg? - Harvard Health

 

Some of the most common reasons people do not take the steps needed to obtain help for depression include:

 

Fear and Shame

 

The shame of having a mental health problem keeps people from seeking help or even talking about suffering from depression. People recognize the negative stigma and discrimination of being associated with a mental illness. Fear of being labeled weak is part of the human condition, and it is natural to worry about the impact on education, careers, and life goals. 

 

But depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical condition, much like diabetes or high cholesterol, which requires treatment. It is also a very common condition. Depressive disorders affect nearly 19 million people in the U.S. every year — regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexuality, income, or education. So there’s a good chance your doctor won’t hear anything from you that they haven’t heard many times before. 

 

Limited Awareness

 

You don’t need to feel sad or cry all day to be clinically depressed. Often people with depression see their primary care doctors for problems such as muscle pain, sleeping problems, or fatigue, not knowing those are signs of depression. Sometimes these symptoms accompany sadness; other times they don’t.

 

A person sometimes minimizes their issues and rationalizes that what is going on is “not that bad” or “everyone gets stressed.” Learning more about symptoms and conditions is advised for everyone wanting to better understand depression.

 

Lack of Insight

‘Didn’t think I needed it at that time’, is the reason many people give to avoid treatment for depression. Waiting for depression to simply pass can be harmful for a number of reasons. For one, depression that goes untreated may become more severe. The longer the delay in treatment, the more difficult it may be to control, and the more likely it is to recur when treatment is stopped. There also is growing evidence that untreated depression can contribute to or worsen other medical problems.

 

What are the Signs of Major Depression: Emerald Psychiatry & TMS

 

Depression is “highly treatable” for most people. Medication can help rebalance brain chemistry, and psychotherapy or counseling help build more resilient coping strategies. It is important to think of mental illness the same as you would a physical illness. 

 

Get in touch with me today to find out how I can help you cope with depression.

How to Show Love When You’re Depressed

Depression is often called the “common cold” of mental health problems. Almost all of us experience at least a mild depression from time to time and an estimated one-third of adults will experience a significant depression in their lifetime.

 

Depression is an extremely low mood that lasts a long time and makes a person feel sad, irritable or empty. Many people, including many teens, have suffered in this way.

 

A depressed person:

 

– has much less energy to do activities.
– feels like nothing matters.
– sees life in a negative way.
– feels like it will never get better

 

What Causes Depression?

 

Depression is not simple. Researchers have identified five different parts of your life that can cause depression or keep it going. These parts are your situation, your thoughts, your emotions, your physical state and your actions. These five parts all affect each other. The way you act changes your situation, the way you think about yourself changes your feelings, the way you feel changes your physical state, and so on. So we can think of these five parts as part of a circle of depression.

 

Depression in Teenagers and What to Do About It

 

Showing Love and Learning to Deal with Depression

 

Talking to family and trusted friends about how you’ve been feeling is usually a good thing to do. They can help you to figure out solutions to some of the problems you’ve been dealing with; besides, just knowing that people care about you can be helpful.

 

It is important to be honest with the people you love, educate them on how depression might impact you during the season. By working with a therapist, you can start to put words, descriptions, and reasoning to your depression. With this knowledge, you can learn how to show love when you’re depressed while educating your loved ones on what you’re going through.

 

Always try your best to accept help. It can be frustrating or isolating at times when your loved ones are offering help, but not in the way you need it. If you are unable to describe or put words to what it is that you need from them, do your best to accept the help in the form they are offering it to you. The more people you love that are in your corner, the more help and support you will have as you navigate your depression.

 

Writing about problems you’re facing, your feelings and thoughts, and possible solutions can help you to understand what you’re going through and what choices you have.

 

Les baixes falses per depressió i ansietat, a l'alça en els darrers anys

 

Speak to a health professional (family doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or mental health nurse) if you think you might be depressed. A professional can help you figure out what’s been going on and can make useful suggestions.

 

Always remember, depressed people do get better and depression does end. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself each day.