According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 75 percent of all mental health problems begin before the age of 24. This is why university is such an important stage of life.
What’s causing mental health problems among students?
Nowadays, more and more students are suffering from mental health problems. A large amount of the problems are due to feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities and not seeking help. Last year, the number of students who said they felt depressed frequently in the US rose from 6,1% to 9,5% over the last five years. These students missed more classes than non-depressed students and had feelings of disengagement.
It’s not only their studies that are causing problems in their lives. Being away from home and having access to alcohol and drugs also play a big role in the increase in students’ mental health problems.
Because of the high pressure at universities and colleges one in 12 UK teenagers harm themselves and one in 10 is clinically depressed.
According to a survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 36.4% of all students reported having experienced some level of depression during their studies. The number one reason that students drop out of school is depression. It’s a very common but serious illness and people can feel detached from the world in severe cases.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious sometimes, yet sometimes people develop anxiety disorders. This causes anxiety to interfere with your daily life, leading to stress and fear and affecting your ability to function. 40 million adults in the US have this disorder and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says that nearly 75% of them would have been affected before the age of 22.
Lots of students develop eating disorders during their college years. Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are characterised by extreme behaviours, emotions and attitudes that revolve around weight and food. They are often related to a need for control. Eating disorders can lead to the development of other serious mental and physical problems. They can be life-threatening left untreated. Boys are almost as likely as girls to develop an eating disorder but many fail to seek treatment as eating disorders are still widely viewed as a women’s issue.
Students tend to see alcohol consumption as a way to relax, take their minds off other things and have fun. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), almost 20% of college students meet Alcohol Use Disorder criteria.
In 2013, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Every year, 1,000 suicides in the US take place on college campuses. Many students feel like they are failing and hopeless, and feel guilty for not achieving what others expect from them.
What do universities do?
A lot of universities offer counseling sessions for students with a psychologist or psychiatrist who works internally. This should be someone that they can drop in on at any time, rely on and trust. However, many students feel like there is a stigma to seeking mental health care.They feel that their feelings are abnormal and don’t want to be seen there because they are ashamed of how they feel.
Indiana University is now providing yoga classes and wellness classes, in addition to guided meditation.They offer mindfulness classes with dogs to help students to relax and stop thinking about schoolwork for a moment. These classes are free and everyone is able to walk in. Students often make friends during the classes, helping them to feel less alone and share their feelings with each other.
At the University of Vermont, brain science classes start and end with meditation. Students also have access to yoga and nutrition coaches. The class is part of the Wellness Environment (WE) program, which nearly 500 students are part of. They want to double participation over the next year .