Life is a juggling act, and this became very apparent to me as I was working in a college counseling center. Many students wear multiple hats in their personal lives—professional, employer, friend, parent, spouse, partner, and child. The list seems to go on infinitely. In my role, I noticed that student mental health was frequently overlooked due to the busy nature of life, and that it was not a priority like it should be.
According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, a study conducted in 2010 found that 44% of counseling center clients had “severe psychological problems, a sharp increase from 16% in 2000.” Of these conditions, the most common were “depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and self-injury.” The article also cited a 2010 survey by the American College Health Association, which found that “45.6 % of students surveyed reported feeling hopeless, and that 30.7% reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function.”
These statistics are both eye opening and alarming.
Many disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse can be exacerbated by the stress of school. Whether you are struggling with a significant eating disorder or more acute stress, it is important to seek help and utilize coping mechanisms to improve your well-being. Here are a few steps you can take today to start prioritizing your mental health:
1. Make time for self-care.
What is self-care? It’s whatever you enjoy doing that makes you feel recharged and not drained. It might be going for a walk, chatting with a friend, or watching a tv show. No matter what it is, try to incorporate time into your busy schedule to do something for yourself.
2. Avoid your bed when it isn’t bedtime.
You’re a busy student, and it might be tempting to lay on the bed while completing your assignments but try to avoid working there. Instead, sit in the living room or in a chair in your room. Your bed should be a place that you associate with sleep and unwinding.
3. Get enough sleep.
On the topic of sleep, make sure you’re getting enough! The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School found that, “lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events.” Research shows that sleep is critical to memory consolidation and retention. So if you think that pulling an all-nighter is going to help you with your grades, you are mistaken.
4. Get connected.
At JWU Online, we offer current student Facebook groups to acquaint you with your classmates. Forming connections, particularly as an online student, is one of the most important things you can do to improve your mental health. All online students have access to campus and are part of the JWU Wildcat Community.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, know that you’re not alone! While you might often hear that “college is the best time of your life,” that doesn’t mean it won’t come with its share of stress and challenges. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor or your professors to get connected with the resources you need.
For more information, visit health.jwu.edu.
Want to learn more about earning your psychology degree with Johnson & Wales University’s College of Online Education? For more information, complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.