America’s college students are facing a mental health crisis.
College is where your mental health goes to die
— Jacob Griffin, Griffin Ambitions Ltd. Founder
Mental illness affects a student’s ability to concentrate, study, work, sleep and eat, according to Rhonda Dalrymple, a professional counselor at Brookhaven College in Dallas, Texas.
Here are four ways you as a student can become more informed on mental health and change the mentality surrounding mental health during Mental Illness Awareness Week, in May.
- KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS.
While mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are different in everyone, there are a few warning signs you can keep an eye out for. The National Institute of Mental Health states that persistent sadness, anxiety, feelings of guilt, loss of interest, difficulty concentrating or sleeping and even physical pains can all be signs of depression.
Restlessness, muscle tension or constantly worrying can be signs of anxiety. An obsession with food, body shape or weight can be signs of an eating disorder. Keep in mind that symptoms are not one-size-fits-all, and only a professional can make an official diagnosis.
- LEARN ABOUT THE SERVICES YOUR COLLEGE PROVIDES — AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK HELP.
for all college students with anxiety/depression/etc. please please please use the resources on your campus. they do as much as they can
— は (@younggwhite) October 5, 2016
70% of the student body at the University of Missouri did not know about the mental health services provided on campus, according to a recent study. Most universities and two-year colleges have a health center and a counseling center for students. Take time to learn about the services provided and how they can help you or a friend cope with a mental illness.
It’s depression screening day and at my college they’re testing people for free I think I’m gonna go tbh
— Inactive-college (@zigzagziall) October 6, 2016
The counselors who work at these centers are trained to help you deal with and overcome mental health issues, all while maintaining confidentiality.
“We always strive to explore [the stigma] with students, allowing them to build trust and normalize for them that it is okay to feel nervous in the beginning,” Dalrymple says. “We discuss confidentiality and try to create a trusting, comfortable atmosphere.”
- EDUCATE YOURSELF AND HELP STOP THE STIGMA SURROUNDING MENTAL ILLNESS.
There is a stigma surrounding not only mental illness, but asking for help, seeing a therapist or even acknowledging that you might have a mental illness.
Ana Arbalaez, a nursing student at Texas Women’s University in Denton, believes many students avoid seeking help because they feel ashamed.
“Students fear that they are going to feel judged, and people are going to look down on them,” Arbalaez said. “This fear causes them to continue suffering in silence instead of asking for the help they need.”
Having a mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the United States experience some form of mental illness. Take the time to educate yourself on mental health and help get the conversation started so that students can change the way people view this issue.
- STOP JOKING ABOUT SUICIDE.
Because it’s really serious. There are over 1,000 suicides on college campuses every year, according to a study by Emory University, and tragically, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24.
Joking about suicide could be a cry for help. If you or friends ever have any suicidal ideations, do not take them lightly. Confide in somebody you trust or call a hotline; help lower the number of suicides.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.