Taking care of our mental health is an essential and crucial step in the general self-care routine. Today more than ever, we all need to pay attention to how we feel and what we experience within. But, in some settings, mental health is more important than in others. According to the American Psychological Association, 60% of students are experiencing at least one mental health problem.
Why is mental health especially important for students in university settings? What makes them so vulnerable in this area? We’ll discuss all of this below.
Most Common Mental Health Problems of University Students
To understand how important it is to address and openly speak about mental health among students, we first need to understand what are the most common mental health problems they face and how serious they can become if not treated.
The feeling of nervousness, discomfort, unease, and worry about upcoming events or the general state of affairs is a common mental health problem for university students. Michigan University reported that in the 2021-22 academic year, 37% of students reported experiencing some level of anxiety.
The consequences of anxiety, when not treated, are many and can be severe. These include problems with focus, decision-making, sleep problems and insomnia, and social isolation. It also leads to more severe problems we’ll list below.
Stress comes in different forms and shapes of emotional and physical tension and is typically caused by academic pressure. It also comes from body image, lack of confidence, social isolation, and feeling of loneliness.
Stress can cause a variety of physical health problems, including headaches, muscle tension, and heart problems. It can disturb students’ sleep and cause them to lose productivity.
Students then need to find additional help to reach their academic goals. WritingUniverse is a useful resource for students who need to get back on track with writing assignments. As helpful as these resources are, many students break under pressure.
A more serious mental health problem in university students is depression. The most common symptoms and signs of depression include sadness and feeling of emptiness, loss of interest in the things you love to do, appetite and weight loss, as well as suicidal thoughts.
Depression negatively influences every segment of students’ life. That includes academic performance, social life, physical health, and the entire quality of life.
Why It’s Important to Promote Mental Health Awareness in University Settings
As the problems we’ve listed above are just the tip of the iceberg, it’s clear that students’ mental health is in crisis. Students are facing challenging and difficult daily routines and are finding it harder than ever to find balance and preserve their mental and physical health.
Promoting mental health in such an environment is important for a number of reasons:
- reducing the stigma of treating mental health problems
- teaching students coping strategies
- improving students’ academic performance
- reducing self-harm and suicide rates
- creating a safer camper environment
- reducing substance abuse
- improving students’ overall health
Addressing the problem and promoting different ways to improve mental health is beneficial for students on so many levels.
How to Increase Mental Health Awareness Among Students?
Now that we understand the problem and the importance of addressing and solving it, let’s look at some specific ways to reduce this crisis and help students find mental health balance.
If a student is facing a mental health problem, they need to know how and where to find help. They need reliable resources and people on campus who will readily help them. After defining the problem, they can decide which way to go next.
Mental Health Services
Next, students always need to have available mental health services and professional help. This includes counseling and all forms of therapy. It would be best for these services to be available on campus. If not, the university can direct them to a reliable mental health provider.
Removing the Stigma
Many students feel embarrassed or scared to seek out help for their mental health problems. They fear what their peers will say or simply don’t know what to expect. This stigma prevents them from getting the necessary help.
To remove the stigma, universities should organize education, peer support programs, awareness campaigns, wellness and stress management programs, and similar. Also, the university needs to nurture an open and supportive campus culture to make sure students feel understood and safe talking about these issues.
Mental health is a major problem for university students. Mental health awareness is thus extremely important if we want to support and help students reach their academic goals. It’s also key for helping them find balance in all other segments of their lives.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand that mental health needs to be treated just like any other problem. If you or someone you know is experiencing such problems, reach out to a student counselor, mental health provider, or a friend you trust.
Olivia Evans is a student counselor and a blogger. She writes to help students, teachers, and parents find balance and work with each other to reach the goals everyone has set.