Mentioning Mental Health on College Campuses
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” - Adam Ant
And, ironically, it seems all the more cool these days to not talk about it. There seems to be a certain shyness about the mental health of university students. With the pressures of doing well in school, fitting in with peers, and having the “right” appearance along with gathering thousands of Instagram followers, our younger generation has been pushed into an abyss. According to a study at Johns Hopkins, at any given point in time, 1 in every 4 university students has suffered or is suffering from mental disorders of various degrees. Studies done by the World Health Organization reveal that mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years old, while suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15–19 year olds. From anxiety attacks to schizophrenia, more and more people are becoming aware of mental illness. Yet, no one wants to talk about it. And those who do are often turned a blind eye or given dismissive (or sometimes even hurtful) remarks, which intensify the vicious circle of depression, stress, OCD and much more.
The short- and long-term consequences of these mental illnesses are serious and quite worthy of attention. Depression and allied disorders can increase the risk of self-harm and suicide later in the students’ lives. There might be a reduction in employment prospects, their studies could suffer, and their relationships can be worsened. Also, a high incidence of drug abuse can be witnessed, both prescribed and illegal. If university life, which almost every child envisions as full of joy and exuberance, can increase the risk of mental disorder, then this situation surely demands urgent attention.
This calls for various steps, both at the individual and community level, to nip the problem in the bud.
What can we do about this?
Identify stress at an early stage, of which homesickness or adverse life experiences can be major contributing factors
Track and map the problems with possible alternatives. Investing time in productive activities like reading, dancing, etc. can help alleviate the problem.
Join support groups and therapy sessions
The bottom line is that we need to do everything we can to reduce the stigma of mental illness in university students. College ought to be a glorious and memorable time for every young person, and we cannot let it be ruined by unspoken hurt.