Topic: Mental Health Awareness for Today’s College Students
Purpose: I think it is necessary to shed light onto the fact that in just even the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the diagnosing of mental illness and disorders in college students, however there are still thousands that will go left undiagnosed. My purpose is to make more people aware of the effects that avoiding their mental health can have, and what resources and tools are available and also what needs to be improved in the world of college’s relations with mental health care.
Thesis Statement: Mental health has long been stigmatized and dismissed though it is a very real and common factor in life, especially for college students. It is necessary for not only students, but parents and peers as well, to be educated on the effects and severity of mental illnesses and the resources available in order to properly take care of yourself and be able to succeed.
Introduction: In college students, mental illnesses are a very real and common aspect of life, yet many people are often left untreated. This can lead to very serious consequences such as self-harm, erratic and dangerous behaviors, and suicide. In our modern day, numbers of students experiencing at least one mental illness have skyrocketed due in part to many factors including the abundant stressors of school as well as exposure to social media. While there are many resources available to students, many colleges still lack proper attention to care for mental health; this is something that needs immediate changes in order for students success and health. The biggest problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of education for it all. It’s because of peoples unawareness of the reality of this situation that perpetuates the problem.
I. I think it’s clear that college takes a toll on students, and no one ever said it’d be easy. But what many people don’t realize is that that toll, that effect that these stressors have on you could be more than what you think it is
1. Recent studies have reported many findings to prove that college students today are facing the highest amount of mental illnesses than ever before.
- One in every five students will be diagnosed with a mental health condition; it is important to realize how common this is so that people understand that they are not alone
- A 2014 study reported that 33% of students were feeling too depressed to function and 55% experienced overwhelming anxiety
- According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors survey of counseling center directors, Seventy percent of directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems on their campus has increased in the past year.
2. The growing rates of mental illness, treated and untreated, have also coincided with growing numbers of self-harming and suicidal behaviors.
- 33.2 percent had considered suicide
- One in every 12 U.S. college students makes a suicide plan, according to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.
- Research taken from studies at 139 institutions have reported that 26% of students who sought help said they had intentionally hurt themselves
II. Colleges and universities have a growing range of networks and support systems put in place to help students who are struggling, but there is still so much room for improvement.
1. There is a growing demand for mental health support on campuses due to the increase in students who are (1) suffering and diagnosed with mental health conditions and (2) seeking help for their problems
- A Center for Collegiate Mental Health study from 2012-2013 found that 48 percent of students had sought counseling for mental health concerns which had increased by six percent from the previous year. This is good and bad; it shows that more students are willing to seek help, but it also shows that more students are suffering these problems.
- Increased treatments for mental illnesses have also allowed more students who may have previously not been fit to go to college, to actually go to school; this increases the demand for institutions to keep up
2. Although many schools do have resources for students, there is still a large population that is either lacking any support, or lacking adequate funding for programs
- Many large institutions, including Penn State, do provide counseling and mental health support, however there is not nearly enough support in relation to student population
- Many universities offer counseling, but often times it is at a large cost. Some students are afraid to get parents involved or insurance to cover the costs and are likely to not seek out help
- Some universities have had increased amount of peer support. Programs will offer students to receive mental support from other students at no cost, and often times students can remain anonymous
- This shows that there is hope that greater support will be put in place, but there is still much room to go.
III. The two main reasons that students lack proper mental care is stigmas attached to mental illness, and lack of education and awareness by both students and parents.
1. Many people still stigmatize mental illness, dismissing them of having any serious effects. Though these stigmas have decreased, their ideals have perpetuated and have infiltrated the minds of students into often feeling shameful about their mental state.
- Often people will think that they should be able to pull themselves out of the rut that they are in, and though that’s true for some, not everyone has this ability.
- This is when self-destructive behaviors can take place
- People should be aware of the symptoms of the most common mental illness in college students like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, in order to properly take care of themselves when needed, and even provide help for their peers
- It is such a common attribute in college that many people are unaware of, knowing you’re not alone can help many people come to terms with their own mental states
- the stigma also often denies the fact that mental illness are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain; often can be controlled by medications
2. Parents and students combined are uneducated on the effects of mental health, this causes there to be a lack of a necessary conversation between the two to normalize mental illness.
- 50% of students have reported to receiving no prior education of mental health before college. This is a serious problem because you can’t help yourself or others if you don’t know what to look for or how to get treatment, and it could have serious damaging effects before help is sought
- Only 7% of parents reported their college students to have experiences mental health issues, while 50% of students reported their mental health to be below average. This rift in statistics proves the uncommunicative relationship between parents and students
- people with mental illness need support systems to properly help themselves, whether that be one person or 20 people, it is necessary to have an outlet that many times parents can provide, this means that the taboo surrounding mental health must be lifted
Conclusion: Mental health is extremely imperative, probably more so than most people think. It’s the kind of thing where it can build up without you knowing until it gets really dangerous. Most mental illnesses are diagnosed before the age of 24 which is why college students are in a critical time. You can’t take care of yourself or others or even your own responsibilities until you are mentally sound. We need to live in a world where not only is it okay to be vulnerable and seek help when its needed, but where help is widespread, common, and accessible. To quote Alex Lindley, a creator of Project Wake Up aiming to increase suicide awareness, “people don’t have the choice of obtaining a mental illness, but people do have the choice to perpetuate the stigma.”
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Henriques, Gregg. “The College Student Mental Health Crisis.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 15 Feb. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201402/the-college-student-mental-health-crisis.
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