By: Dana Blankenship
Mental health. Something I know little about, but am extremely interested in. Mental health is captivating in the fact that a large number of college students, 1 in 5, suffer from some sort it. 20 percent! 20 percent of college students suffer from mental health, the largest percentage of students ever in the United States.
What is mental health? I have no idea. Sure, it is depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, but I do not know how to recognize it. I think that is the scariest part about mental health; it is a silent disease. By the sound of it, I don’t think many other college students know how to recognize it either. College students also assume that there is this negative stigma around mental health; that if you have anxiety or depression you are suddenly a weak student and person.
What can we do about mental health? It is always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Sure, this may not work for everyone, but it is good to remember that we are not alone. I have a test tomorrow, but so do 29 other CMU students. I have a to present a research project next week, but that is along with the rest of my COM 362 classmates. Others recommend doing something off task that could help you refocus. If you have time, take a walk around your town. If you can draw, sketch what you are feeling. Some universities even bring ‘stress animals’ to their campuses in an effort to help students relax. Hey, I understand, if I play with a puppy for ten minutes I guarantee that I would feel better that I felt before.
If none of the above work for you, it is always good to remember there are external resources that you can reach out to. I will use my school, Central Michigan University as an example. Started more than 20 years ago, CMU implemented the Take Care system that provides counseling and help to any CMU student. If you notice that one of your friends is acting different, seemingly depressed or stressed, you can call the Take Care staff that will then intervene as a third party. Their job is to provide resources and options to this student, anything to relieve their mental stress. Take Care can recommend counseling sessions, locate local police for you, find academic tutoring and advising or help with any sort of student problem. Even if you don’t want to directly get involved, you can anonymously call about a friend who needs help. I’m sure other universities have programs similar to this, all in the interest of student welfare and mental health.
I have seen many friends fight the battle with mental health and I know it is not an easy war. I don’t wish it on anyone. Students think that no one else has these problems, so why should they? They think of it as a sign of weakness. It’s not, and that is a lame response. Anxiety, depression, trauma, stress only get the best of you when students don’t seek the help they need.
I encourage everyone to take action, whether it is prevention or empowerment for your mental health. Know that you have the resources to back you up and that you can make the best of any situation.