Student Mental Health: How Colleges are addressing the Stigma

Student Mental Health: How Colleges are addressing the Stigma

Whoever said college was all about fun couldn’t be more wrong. With multiples assignments, the rat-race competition, and education loans heaving down the late-teens, colleges are witnessing an endemic of mental health issues. According to a report released by the World Council on Education, almost 85% of top university executives feel that mental health is a priority today than it was three years ago. And as more and more college students report about their battle with anxiety and depression, college authorities are considering mental health sessions to be mandated.

Moreover, the proliferation of suicide within the young crowd, stemming from harassment and assault, is on the rise. Considering the gravity of the problem, colleges are striving to implement redressal measures to heal the student population at the most vulnerable point of their lives.

So how are colleges dealing with the predicament?

Poor mental health during academic life poses a big threat. Not only does it affect students’ grades, but mental health can actually stop them from finishing their degrees. And it just isn’t about one’s education. The baggage of mental health issues is often too heavy, which persists throughout their overall lives, affecting their career potential and corporal health. It still doesn’t end here. In several cases, students have been pushed to the edge where they have chosen death over life, making suicide the second-leading cause of death among college students.

As a result, more colleges are allocating a better share of funds to arrange counselling and therapy for students. Out of the crème-de-la-crème among the institutions in South Africa, most have indicated about spending more money on mental health initiatives. Few colleges have also started following the no-assignment policy to ease the burden on the fragile shoulders of the students.

At the University of Fort Hare in Alice, South Africa, counselling services were unheard of until a few months. It was after two students committed suicide in 2018 that the university made a few changes. Counsellors were hired. But considering the strength of the campus (8000+), professors and alumni of the psychology department were requested to create a bigger counselling unit to reach out to more people. Following suit, several other colleges like the University of Pretoria and Nelson Mandela University started implementing regular counselling campaigns and mental health drives to address such problems.

Even across the world, prominent colleges took up the mantle to put an end to the stigma around mental health challenges. For instance, the University of Pennsylvania came up with the Counseling and Psychological Services that offers individual as well as group therapy sessions. In the UK, the University of Reading provides free and round-the-clock support online via the Big White Wall, so that students have a crisis hotline to fall back on when they have the sudden bouts of anxiety.

However, taking into account the ratio between the strength of faculty to the campus, it is nearly impossible to attend to every student individually. This is why, university presidents over the world have come to a common ground to reach out to more students via online content. College websites are writing more on mental issues to make students feel comfortable about what they are going through. Even academic help sites like Allessaywriter, reports having started blog archives that address issues like how to deal with bullying and manage exam stress.

In that light, here are some tips from students counsellors that students can implement in their everyday lives to heal better.

4 Mental Health Tips for College Students

While counsellors and therapists can certainly help, the final act of gulping down the drug has to be done by you. So it is vital that you learn to take care of your mental health while in college.

Start with these small changes in your daily life TODAY and see how you heal for the better.

1. Get Good Sleep

With the academic stress and peer pressure, you might often be torn between pulling all-nighters to finish that dissertation or attending a happening dorm party. But when you lack sleep, your body fails to produce serotonin and dopamine – the chemicals that keep stress and anxiety at bay.

So turn off your phone, brew some chamomile tea and snuggle tight for some good sleepy hours.

2. Go to the Campus Counselor

Your campus counsellor may have some fantastic stress management techniques up his/her sleeves that will help you calm yourself or combat other issues you may be facing. Moreover, being no stranger to depression myself, I know the wonders that venting out can work.

So choose someone you trust to confide in and make it a regular habit to visit the person for some empathetic listening.

3. Build your support network

Having stepped into college life, far from home, you are bound to feel overwhelmed and confused at some point. But just talking things out can help. Hence, build a support network with your favourite professor, a friendly senior and that one best friend and fall back on them when you feel the water is rising above your head.

Contact them for a pep talk when you feel that you cannot take the burden anymore. The more you reach out, the more solutions you get collectively.

4. Get active

When you become more proactive in college, you not only get to make the most out of your years, but you also keep your brain occupied. Exercise and yoga lead to the release of endorphins in your bloodstream, which can boost your mood and lift your spirit.

So hit the college gym or go for a jog often. You can even join social clubs in your college according to your interests.

Parting thoughts,

Wellbeing and good mental health should be an ingrained culture in every college campus, and it is up to the authorities as well as the students to make this happen. Although there are several gaps to fill, the picture has definitely become better now. Thanks to the reforms, 48 per cent of students were being treated for mental health issues as in August 2019, compared to 17 per cent in 2009. So it is just a matter of time that college again becomes all about fun.

In the end, it is you who can save you. So hang in there and do not let the academic pressure dim your shine. You are already a mosaic of all the battles that you have won, and this storm shall pass too. All the best!

Author Bio: Ricky is a student’s counsellor associated with some of the best colleges in South Africa. He is an online academic reviewer for the critic site Topassignmentreviews. In his free time, you are likely to find Joy in his garden patch, nurturing his green friends or reading a book in his favourite nook.


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