Mental health awareness is a crucial problem for every educator, who are often the first to notice when something is off about their students. Education professionals have become aware of the impact a student’s mental health can have when learning and succeeding, and they also understand that there are ways to help these students with mental health issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for most places.
Mental health programs for college are not implemented in every college out there, which has led to many professors to be frustrated with the administration over the situation.
While college can be a fun time for some people, the amount of work, study, and everyday problems can eventually build up. This can cause the students to spiral into a dark path of depression or anxiety that can potentially end up becoming worse.
For this article, we’ll be going over mental health programs for college and why it’s crucial to have them.
The issue at hand
Researchers have called the current mental health issue in colleges an epidemic to emphasize the mental health challenges that are currently plaguing college students. According to a study that was conducted between 2018 and 2019, a student survey from the American College Health Association reveals that over 60% of the participants felt overwhelming anxiety. The other 40% that participated were said to be experiencing severe depression, making it difficult for them to function on their daily needs.
Another study conducted by Pennsylvania State University during 2019 discovered that the demand for mental health programs for college was increasing around 30 to 40% during a time that only saw a 5% increase for enrollment.
Disturbances of the mood were represented only by the prevalent mental health problem experienced by college students. Other severe issues included eating disorders, addiction, and suicide. Mental health professionals have been pushing the importance of discussing these issues, but students will usually consider these stresses to be a regular part of their college experience.
At other times, they may not have enough time, energy, will, or money to search for the support they are in desperate need.
Types of mental health issues among college students
There are several common mental health issues you can expect a college student to experience while they are there. Here are the ones you should be aware of:
Depression is a well-known mood disorder that makes a person experience a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in things they found enjoyable previously. Students who experience depressive episodes will also eventually experience mood swings, sleep disturbances, a change in appetite, headaches, and body pains that seem to not appear due to any physical reason.
The symptoms known for depression can differ from each person. Ultimately, depression can be due to a chemical imbalance in a person’s brains. The way one individual displays signs of depression may not be similar to others. Symptoms of depression include changes in sleep pattern and appetite, sadness, hopelessness, trouble concentration, paying attention to work, and incapable of finishing assignments.
Anxiety is something that everyone will experience from time to time. Although a growing and persistent feeling of worrying tension and panic will interfere with a person’s daily life. Once a person’s daily routine becomes disrupted, anxiety will reach the line where it starts to become a medical condition.
Symptoms you can expect from anxiety disorders will sometimes be mistaken for an ordinary day of stress or written off as someone who’s over worrying. Depending on how the person’s body responds to increased levels of specific chemicals, pain attacks can be mistaken for a physical ailment, such as tension headache or heart attack.
These symptoms can emerge differently from person to person, so what is true for one person won’t be for another.
Mental health professionals have defined suicidal ideation as a prevalent pattern of thinking about or planning out one’s death by their hand. Typically, experts consider highly detailed suicidal thoughts or an overwhelming amount to be a mental health crisis. Plenty of students will experience doubt and frustration, but at times those thoughts will achieve serious momentum, leading students to a place where they may consider ending it all.
Signs of suicidal thinking can differ from person to person. The most common warning sign that someone is thinking of suicide can appear in their behavior, mood, and speech pattern.
Eating disorders border on all sorts of conditions marked by massive irregularities in a person’s eating habits and intense preoccupation with either their body image or shape. Disorders can have both deprivations of food and binge eating, which can be followed up by vomiting. Examples of eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa.
Both symptoms and signs of an eating disorder will vary by individual and condition, and can also come down to the current mental state of the person with the disorder. Although several red flags are quite common for anorexia, binging, and bulimia.
The signs to watch out for are dehydration, fear of eating in public, making excuses on eating habits, and excessive exercise.
It’s quite well known that college students will regularly consume alcohol and use recreational drugs, which can lead to severe issues. Addiction is described as a palpable pattern or physical and psychological dependence on either a single or several types of substances. This can include a powerful craving and indulgence for substance abuse, even with being aware of the potential risks and harms.
Studies done in 2019 have revealed a critical picture of addiction in American colleges with alcohol having a massive role in over more than 1,500 annual deaths on campuses. Moreover, over 35% of these students have admitted to binge drinking, and 25% of them abuse drugs to enhance their studying. College students are known to abuse drugs such as benzodiazepines, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and prescription painkillers at ample rates.
Most students who are relying on alcohol and drugs while in college do not tend to develop an addiction. Although, they can still experience side effects of withdrawal or prolonged usage of these substances. You can expect to see fear, anxiety, or paranoia for no apparent reason, a sudden change in friends, activities, or hobbies, and desperate need of money. If you see anyone experience any of these, they are most likely at risk.
Mental health program for colleges
Due to the increasing amount of issues that are cropping up amongst students, colleges have been doing their best to address these concerning issues. mental health programs for colleges have begun to appear for most places, but it doesn’t guarantee that a student will likely seek out for help for a variety of reasons. Some students may not even be aware that the college campus is even offering a variety of programs to ensure students can receive help if they are in mental distress. That’s why introducing several mental health programs to these colleges can be useful in letting them know of the support they have access to while on campus.
Florida State University is another educational institution that has managed to launch their own online trauma resilience training tool, which was developed by the Institute for Family Violence Studies and their College of Social Work. The developers behind this project have been able to recognize plenty of students who come to the university have previously experienced a notable amount of family and community stress and that stress will impair their learning. Florida State University has made it a requirement for every freshman and transfer student to be a participant of these programs, which feature animations, videos, and information sessions to cultivate student strength and coping strategies.
Other similar programs are cropping up all over the United States to lead a more preventive approach to increase the mental health program for colleges. Stanford has also managed to release a resilience project of their own, which features personal storytelling as well as academic skills in coaching. The number of online videos has plenty of students and alumni who describe their serious case of self-doubt they experienced when they first stepped into the campus.
While not every college will be able to provide enough mental health providers on their payroll, there are still plenty of online resources and programmatic events that can be done. Although, many of these students will prefer if the support they receive is face-to-face. Even with all of these resources handed out to them, some students won’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health issues. Furthermore, plenty of them doesn’t know how to help their fellow students who seem to be lonely, sad, or distant.
BetterMynd is an online program that has become available for students to reach out and receive all sorts of help from professionals and the resources they provide. Our program has managed to start a unique partnership with various colleges and universities to make sure that students are meeting their mental health needs.
Depending on the student’s needs from each school, the services they provide will vary. Several things they offer students are access to vast resources on mental health, long-term counseling, access to a diverse set of counselors, privacy for students who don’t wish to head into the counseling centers, provide ease of mind for students and their parents, and much more.
Programs like ours are especially great for colleges that are not capable of meeting all of the needs of their students due to them not having enough counselors around. This will ensure that counselors will have a reduced amount of stress as well, and be able to manage their students over the long run if they have accessible help in other places.
Mental health programs for college can be adopted in all sorts of ways, thanks to modern technology.
Texting is another big thing among students, and colleges can take full advantage of this by introducing texting for support as another option. Letting students know that nonprofits like Text4Hope exists can let them have a place to seek help.
This program searches to provide college students with options if they are concerned about a friend overwhelmed due to academic stress, or are feeling depressed, lonely, or suicidal.
The members of the Helpline Center are all trained members who are prepared to respond to texts at any hour of the day.
They also invite students to check out their Instagram feed under the hashtag #sdhopenotes, which features tons of encouraging messages from students all over various colleges and universities throughout the nation.
Increasing awareness of these programs
Colleges will need to provide some ways to ensure students are fully aware of the existence behind these programs.
Orientation sessions on alcohol and drug use, sexual harassment prevention, and other such topics addressed during these times. But for some reason, mental health awareness isn’t something dealt with directly. Colleges will need to start sharing this mental health information with their new students during these orientation sessions to ensure they are aware of these useful resources.
Nothing overly fancy needs to be done, the information can be presented in a usual presentation and panel discussion, what roles will they hold, short informational videos, and some student testimonials and end it with a small group discussion.
During this time, students will be able to learn how to see the signs for various mental illness symptoms, where they can find resources and support for this, and how they can talk with their friends who may be struggling through their mental issues.
Due to the troubling stigma that has become associated with mental illness remaining prevalent, having an open discourse and sharing stories will assist with the normalization of mental health concerns. Mental health programs for colleges will need to make sure that this stigma is stamped out while helping their students and have these students become examples of how facing your mental distress is not a sign of weakness, but strength.
As you can see, mental health has played a sobering role in effectively the lives of college students all over. By providing them with mental health programs, these colleges will ensure that their students leave not only with a positive memory of their time in college, but a happier and fruitful attitude as well. This should eventually lead towards mental health becoming something that should be openly discussed instead of hidden away in a dark room, where it can fester into something worse.