The State of Mental Health on College Campuses

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  • Life at college is supposed to be the things dreams are made of. Ever since we’re old enough to walk, all we think about is escaping the confines of our restricted youth and setting ourselves free at university. Living alone, cooking our own food and finally fending for ourselves

    We get to harness our academic abilities too. No longer will we be stifled by set curriculum set out by high school bodies. We won’t ‘have’ to attend class per se, but that in turn will make us want to attend more. We’re free to choose our majors and minors and even more specifically individual modules allowing us to flourish in the avenue of our choosing.

    However, university also brings a lot of complex issues to the fore. New students are young, and exuberance can only carry them so far, sometimes the logistics and practicalities of finally having to fend for oneself can become a much larger burden than expected. The pressure of the expenses involved for studying, for food and for rent, combined with the pressure to fit into a new social group. Finally you can be yourself, but who is that? Our identity is no longer given to us; it’s ours to create which is both beautiful as well as hugely difficult. Who should you be?

    All these issues, and many more, can create a plethora of mental disorders across campuses all over the nation. Other students, personal tutors, care givers and lecturers all need to be educated in any potential problems that could arise from any number of mental disorders in order to fully treat them accordingly. Below we have discussed a number of the more prominent mental disorders that students frequently suffer from during their time at university.

    1) Substance Abuse

    Substance abuse can be a disorder in itself or a symptom of any of the disorders listed below. When people are feeling either stressed or low, often a reaction to that is to ‘escape’ with drugs or alcohol. Ecstasy, (meth) amphetamines and cocaine appear to offer short-term solutions to problems, however, they’re all strongly linked to schizophrenia, and other forms of psychosis.

    Alcohol is famously a depressant and should therefore be avoided as any means of a solution to a problem. Alcohol also can create a negativity spiral when things begin to get too much to handle, then students may ‘hit the bottle’, the affect of the alcohol then makes the problem seem even larger than before, so alcohol is used again to deal with the problem. Very quickly the situation can escalate to the extent of alcoholism, dropping out of college etc.

    If you see anyone resorting to substances to deal with their problems try to intervene in a friendly manner, offer them both your time and your ear and talk through their issues. Everything can be resolved, it’s important the victim understands that.

    2) Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia is a lot more common than most people realize, with 1 in every 100 people being affected at some point throughout their lives. An interesting difference however is that schizophrenia appears to target men more throughout their youth (roughly between 15 until 25) whereas women tend to suffer more later in life. Some of the more minor symptoms include a lack of motivation to act upon life’s more mundane tasks along with a severe lack of concentration. As symptoms worsen though, a victim could demonstrate paranoid delusions and extreme hallucinations (both visual and more frequently aural).

    3) Eating disorders

    Both anorexia and bulimia are huge problems at high schools across the world, and this unfortunately continues into college too. Although these diseases can afflict both genders, the vast majority of victims are female. Anorexia involves extreme loss of weight to the extent that it can become life threatening. Bulimia, however, involves binge eating and then purging the food from the system through either vomiting or excessive use of laxatives.

    4) Depression in students

    A hugely under recognized disease, depression can destroy any student’s life. It needs to be noted that being upset about your partner cheating on you, stressing about final exams or concern for getting sacked from your job at the local sandwich shop doesn’t constitute depression! It’s more of a case of feeling so down for a period of weeks that you literally lack the aptitude or motivation to do even the most simple of tasks. Common warning signs are often a lack of appetite, feeling tired, lack of decision-making ability, a loss of interest in sex, and a lack of ability to truly ‘enjoy’ anything.

    5) Bipolar disorder

    Formally known as manic depression, bipolar disorders are becoming exponentially more common, with university students demonstrating a particular rise in recorded cases. The main symptom to watch out for is simply huge swings in the victim’s mood, demonstrating extreme swings of apparent happiness and sadness. As the disorder worsens, these episodes of depression and mania can elongate to a situation where they must be endured for weeks on end.

    College can be brilliant, it can be everything we hoped and more but we have to manage our expectations and even more importantly we have to be ready to face challenges that we’ve never faced before. Whether you’re a student, a prospective student, a parent or someone close to a student it’s important to be aware of all the varying issues students face in the modern world. Look out for early warning signs, be open and forthright, show concern for your loved ones and act accordingly. Like anything in life, if these issues can be addressed early then there will be no need for excess concern. Manic episodes, depression etc. can be dealt with very easily through medication, so whether it’s prescribed or if you buy online it’s better to act quickly. It’s much easier to deal with all issues at any earlier stage than to let the problem become a full-blown chronic event so keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground.

    Remember for all the joys college can bring, it brings a host of other issues too. Embrace those and you, or your loved one, will be truly equipped to embrace college life.

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