According to the American Psychological Association, mental health disorders have reached an epidemic level on college campuses; in fact, one APA report referred to it as a “growing crisis.” Indeed, depression and anxiety are all too common on today’s college campuses—and those are just the two most commonly cited mental health disorders. Substance use, eating disorders and other mental health struggles are also very real to a rising number of college students. The implication of all of this is simple: We must do more to support mental health on college campuses.
What does this look like, though? Providing support structures for students who are struggling—including formal support groups—is key. Providing students with education about mental health problems, and tips on safe stress management is also critical.
Beyond that, students themselves need to be equipped to help one another deal with mental health disorders as they arise. Some guidelines here include:
- Know how to spot the warning signs of mental illness, including extended sadness, attempts at self-harm, out-of-control risk-taking, sudden and overwhelming fear, mood swings or major changes in weight or appetite.
- Be ready to start a conversation, simply in a spirit of compassion and concern.
- Be willing to offer support, like helping your friend find a support group or a therapist in the area.
- If you feel like you need additional support, do not be afraid to go to a parent, teacher or school health provider for help.
College students face a number of stressors, and as such it is little wonder mental health disorders are so common on campus. We can all offer support, though, even if that support is just being a good friend to the students we know. To learn more about mental health signs and symptoms, be sure to visit our website.
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