/The collegiate mental health crisis
Graphic by Bell Jackson

The collegiate mental health crisis

By Jacob Ruston

Being a student at The University of Montevallo gives a sense of belonging and purpose to students on their four year journey. However, along the way, there are bound to be some frustrations and struggles to overcome. While there are many external issues like academic stress and accountability;  a good many of them come in a psychological and internal form.  

The enigma with understanding mental health issues is that they can be very complex and often difficult to fully understand and evaluate. In order to further understand this topic and find solutions to this collegiate mental health crisis, Courtney Shields from UM’s Counseling Services provided some great insight on some important topics.  

One important idea to ponder on is the pattern of mental health problems among college students; it seems that a high number of those attending universities are more likely to experience such transgressions.  

First off, it is important to understand the huge amount of adjustment that comes with starting a new semester. For freshmen in particular, it is unlike anything they had previously experienced. In response to this, Shields points out that these new experiences can lead to a feeling of disconnection from the former self.  

Another intrinsic factor to consider is the amount of pressure and stress that students endure to keep up academically. Without properly dealing with the buildup of stress, the probability of developing burnout and mental anguish increase in correlation.  

When faced with mental anguish, it is necessary to have a well-rounded set of wellness tools ready to use. According to Shields taking care of yourself physically is one of the best things you can do for yourself mentally. Drinking water, for example, is a good example of this; when you stay hydrated you will feel better physically which will result in feeling better mentally.  

Getting adequate rest is another thing to focus on. Sadly, this is the most common thing that college students will overlook; many think by staying up late they can be more productive. Rest comes in forms other than sleep too; by engaging in something that doesn’t require much concentration lets your brain take a back seat and recharge.  

This recharging in both physical and mental form allows for more efficiency in dealing with life’s struggles. Next time you feel burnt out, take a time out.  

While it is common to isolate from time to time to recharge, the importance of social connection cannot be overstated. In fact, Shields points out the importance of being surrounded by people you feel comfortable with in times of struggle.  

In a world full of struggle and stress, it is a responsibility we all have to be there to lift each other up. When walking through the storm along with someone else, the task of emotional healing becomes much less daunting. If having a circle of people who provide this kind of support is not an option, Counseling Services is always ready with open arms to help in any way they can.  

College is difficult academically and socially. It is not unusual to be emotionally distraught in this time; it makes it easier to realize that you are not alone. While it can feel as if the world is caving in from time to time, just remember that all you have to do is take the next step forward.  

At this season in life it is okay to not have it all figured out; it is normal and perfectly justified to make mistakes along the way. Taking care of yourself mentally is just as important as taking care of yourself physically.

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