The transition to college can be a struggle for any student of any age. The combined stress of schoolwork, living on your own and pressure to socialize is overwhelming and exhausting. As a result, college students often struggle with mental health issues, from depression and anxiety to ADHD and eating disorders.
Mental health has the ability to affect almost every aspect of a student’s life, including sleep cycles, eating and emotional and physical self-neglect; it also negatively affects academic achievement as well as weekly attendance at a lecture. Most college students — more than 60% — have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, according to a recently published Healthy Minds survey.
The heavy workload of assignments and studies while managing her work is what junior Katelyn McCarty attributes to her emotional and mental stress. “There’s really no time for rest,” McCarty said. “I always feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for me to keep up with everything I do. Even though I finished my work, I felt like it wasn’t my best work because I was too thin.
More often than not, students feel overwhelmed by the weight of academics — by feelings of workload and pressure to succeed. Junior Antonio Mosby expressed similar sentiments as McCarty. “I feel like I’m still trying to figure out who I am while being pressured to get a degree. It was overwhelming, and I was tired all the time.”
A recent survey showed that more than half of students with reported mental health symptoms did not seek help. Obviously, students may feel that there is a standard of communication that they hope to meet, even if unable to express their struggles; this can result in stress, fear and reluctance for students to seek help.
“I feel like asking for help is scary in general because you get asked what’s wrong and what you need,” said senior Cara Cordova. “Honestly, the reason I ask for help is because I don’t know what’s wrong or what I need.”
The St. John’s University offers various methods of mental health support, including the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Along with most colleges, St. John’s uses a short-term model for treating students with “a whole range of challenges,” especially mental health, on campus. CCC provides six free therapy appointments with campus counselors and psychologists; thereafter, treatment is completed as needed or students are referred to external counselors.
However, some students may find the short-term help model too short and seek a long-term therapist. “It’s a daunting task,” senior Annie Murphy said. “The most important thing is to do your research.” Finding a therapist who specializes in specific needs will allow the student to focus on helping the aspects of their mental health that need the most attention.
One way to do so is to start by looking at what insurance costs – it’s important to make sure that asking for help doesn’t put a financial burden on a student. Another way is to contact your primary care doctor; whether an individual needs psychiatric care, therapy sessions or simple consultation, a primary care physician has readily available referrals.
In addition, student-run organizations have activities that promote well-being and stress relief. Specifically, the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP) is an SJU organization that provides care to individuals with mental illness. In the spring semester, AAPP opens a meditation room for finals week, which allows students to cope with the overwhelming stress of college life.
Life can be incredibly stressful when it comes to classes, socialization and the pressure that comes with both. The St. John’s University has many resources to help students struggling with mental health issues; if further treatment is needed, it is important for students to seek long-term help from consistent resources. However, these short-term resources give students a head start on their mental health journey.