Feeling overwhelmed? We’ve all been there before. As the school year begins to pick up, it becomes easier and easier to forget about the importance of mental health. With assignments to complete, a work shift coming up or meetings to attend, there always seems to be something more important, or even just easier, to do than care for your mental health. But it is important to take the time to reflect on our mental health.
It’s easy for students to feel that they are alone in their struggles, but the statistics tell a different story. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 30 percent of students reported feeling that “stress had negatively impacted their academic performance.” ADAA has also reported that 41.6 percent of college students feel that anxiety is their top mental concern. But anxiety isn’t the only mental health concern. The National Institute of Mental Health reported that 30 percent of students have felt “so depressed it was difficult to function” in their last year in school.
So why do so many students who suffer from mental illness feel alone? The stigma around mental health is preventing productive conversation concerning health care. Instead of encouraging open communication about it, we shy away from any conversation. There is not enough conversation about how to identify symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental illness in yourself and where to reach out if you need help.
GRAPHIC BY CAROLINE POLICH
Lisa Pryor of the New York Times compares this widespread lack of education to a Rorschach test, saying, “People see in it whatever they like, in order to make whatever point they like, about what they perceive to be the ills of society.” This creates an environment that doesn’t feel safe enough for students to seek help for their mental health problems because everyone perceives mental health in a different way. Due to this, people are quick to blame their illness on too much homework, or something else that is fleeting rather than seeking help.
So what can we do to care for ourselves? The Washington Post has a few tips:
1.) Go outside more!
Studies show that spending at least 90 minutes outside can help reduce your negative thoughts.
2.) Get some exercise!
Studies have proven that exercise helps make the brain stronger and age less quickly.
3.) Limit your social media use!
Research suggests that social media can be linked to some depressive symptoms.
These tips can be helpful, but if you are feeling as though you need help the McClintock Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is open every weekday.
Diana is a sophomore International Relations major with a double minor in Environmental Studies and Spanish.