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There is growing concern about the state of mental health on college campuses. With the number of students who have gone to seek help increasing by 50% in the last year, it is an issue that cannot be ignored. A survey carried out showed that 33% of all students surveyed reported feeling depressed in the past 12 months. 55% of them reported feelings of anxiety while close to 90% felt overwhelmed with the responsibilities. 9% of all surveyed students reported having thoughts of suicide over the last year. The sad fact about these figures is that 40% of the students do not seek help.
Mental Health Crisis On College Campuses
The pressure to succeed and social and academic stresses can be overwhelming for many students. College for most students is the first time they have the freedom to make their own choices that could make a real impact in their lives. Also the fear of the unknown can be a contributing factor to the crisis.
- Intense academic pressure to succeed
- Social media
It is this pressure to do well in future together with financial strain that contributes to the decrease in a student’s mental health. For most students the pressure starts before college where they feel pressure to do well so that they can get into increasingly selective universities.
Social media is not helping the situation. There is growing presence of social media and the Internet that pressure students to want to be perfect, a non-realistic standard. Social media can prompt unfavorable comparisons between peers exacerbating the symptoms of mental illness.
- Poor handling of mental issues on college campuses
Due to the rise in number of students needing counseling, the college counseling centers are overloaded with the high demand. Some are not effectively geared to handle the broad mental needs of the students seeking help. Many of the universities are dealing with the mental challenge in a defensive problematic way. College mental health facilities have insufficient funding and therefore students have inadequate access to proper care and treatment. Colleges are now devising ways to develop quick screening tools and a brief consultation so as to quickly determine the needs for each student.
Rapid Evolution of Technology – Information Overload
Over the past few decades there has been acceleration of technology. There was the emergence of the Internet, Facebook, smart phones and other social media technologies that has changes the social fabric and how people relate to each other. The hyper-connected nature of the world does create opportunities but also creates chaos and danger that are recipes for stress. This hyper-connected nature gives access to more choices and information that can be overwhelming and confusing.
- Problematic attitudes towards those with mental illness
Even though in the last couple of years mental illness has been more publicized, it is still not an easy topic to talk about and can come with a lot of stigma for those suffering from mental illness. Generally, people avoid talking about the problem, both those suffering and those around them.
What Can Be Done About It
To deal with the crisis mental health education is needed and not just from the campus-counseling center. Having more classes that teach life skill on top of having open conversations about mental health can combat fears of the future. Universities should create an environment that fosters student development.