The Importance of College Students’ Mental Health

We’re often told that our college years are “some of the best years of your life.” That it’s a time of endless opportunities, a time to meet friends that last a lifetime and a time for us to truly grow as an individual. While many of us experience this, we’ve also experienced the “darker” side of college, the side can lead to some of the most stressful and anxiety-ridden periods in our lives. Tests, heavy workloads, financial burdens, relationship issues and much more can plague many of us during our university years, making us all wonder: “Are these really the best years of my life?”

In 2017, more than 60% of students reported feeling anxious, depressed or stressed during their time in college., While many students struggle with mental illnesses, many universities have reported an upswing in students taking advantage of mental health resources on campus, seeking help from others and breaking the stigma of mental illness. Today, students recognise the importance of mental health and seek the tools they need to truly make the most out of their college career.

“But I can handle my own stress.”

“I’m just in a funk.”

“I don’t have the time or money.”

Many of us try to convince ourselves that whatever problems we are facing are things we can handle on our own, or perhaps problems that will pass. While as a society we are breaking the negativities around mental illness, many of us still hesitate when seeking help. Sometimes, it helps to see the types of mental illness, and recognize that it takes many forms, some seemingly insignificant.

As a college student faced with multiple stressors, it may be hard to discern what is “normal” stress and what isn’t. Below are some symptoms of the most prevalent mental illness and why it’s important to seek help.

Depression

Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness and helplessness
  • Thoughts of dying
  • Loss of motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in social life

Why is it important to seek help?

Depression can often interfere with your life, making it hard to concentrate academically and socially, leading to poor grades and lost friendships. Even basic necessities such as sleeping and eating can become affected, leaving you despondent and fatigued. If left untreated, depression can lead to suicide ideation and even suicide.

Anxiety

Symptoms include:

  • Fear about everyday things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Stomach aches or muscle pains
  • Frequent headaches

Why is it important to seek help?

While anxiety every once in awhile is normal, constant anxiety is not. Anxiety can interfere with your school work, often leaving students sick before tests, or too anxious to even attempt to take an exam. Anxiety can also lead to damaged relationships, especially if the thought of social activities leave you constantly worried.

Suicide

Symptoms include:

  • Thoughts or talk of suicide
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden drop in academic performance
  • Poor eating habits

Why is it important to seek help?

If you have experienced any of the symptoms above, we urge you to seek help right away. Depression and anxiety can often lead to suicide, especially when a student feels alone and at a loss. Suicide is devestating for those who love you (even if you may feel as if you would be less of a burden.) Please reach out to friends and family, to us or to the National Suicde Prevention Lifeline.

Eating Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • Fear of eating
  • Distorted body image
  • Over exercise
  • Poor eating habits
  • Irregular heartbeat

Why is it important to seek help?

Eating disorders can often lead to serious medical issues, such as heart problems, organ failure, stunted growth, loss of female menstruation and reproductive system issues. While it’s often hard to ignore the impossible beauty standards in this day and age, it’s important to recognize that a negative body image and eating disorder can impact your day to day life.

Addiction

Symptoms include:

  • A pattern of use
  • Inability to stop using
  • Dropping hobbies or activities
  • Use of substance to avoid problems
  • Denial

Why is it important to seek help?

Addiction, whether to illegal substances, alcohol or other substances, can damage you physically, mentally and socially. Your family, finances and friends may even become involved, and ultimately, the law. Signs of addiction depend on the substance and amount, but if you suspect any level of addiction, it’s best to seek help sooner rather than later.

So How Can Olive Branch Help College Students?

Here at Olive Branch Therapy Group we recognize the importance of mental health, especially for those in college or university. We want to help you learn the tools you need to truly succeed academically, socially and personally during your academic career. Ultimately, we want college to really, truly be the best years of your life!

Fight the stigma of mental illness and live your best life by learning more about our highly qualified therapists and contacting us today.

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