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November 27, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 44°F

Opinion

Commentary: College students’ mental health deserves attention

Mental health. Two words that strike deep for all. What is it? “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, this is something college students struggle with throughout the year. According to The Mayo Clinic Health System, 44% of college students struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and within that 44%, 75% are reluctant to seek help. The consequences of this can be poor academic performance, dropping out of college, depression, substance abuse or suicide. 

When transitioning from high school to college, students have to learn how to navigate their own physical and mental health for the first time, without parents or friends they have known their entire life. They are completely surrounded by new people and a new environment. Moving to college means much more than going to class, studying and finding friends. It involves taking care of ourselves, doing our laundry, making sure we eat three meals a day and sometimes having to buy our own necessities. It is important to not put too much pressure on ourselves and remember that it is OK to not feel our best mentally sometimes.

“College is a key developmental time; the age of onset for lifetime mental health problems also directly coincides with traditional college years — 75% of lifetime mental health problems will onset by age 24,” Sarah K. Lipson, assistant professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy & Management at Boston University, said. 

This reveals how college is one of the most imperative developmental stages of our life. Pushing through the hard times by ourselves, not in our usual bedroom we’ve known since we were born, not in the house we grew up in, surrounded by people we’ve been with every day of our life until that point — having to struggle through these moments can be vigorous and stressful. The feeling that it will not get better can weigh down on someone. I cannot express enough how necessary it is for college students to have time to ourselves once in a while to check up on our mental health. 

College students are sleep deprived because of all the strict deadlines they have to meet, the work that builds up and the extracurriculars they need to be a part of to further their chances for a job/internship in the future. With that said, it is very crucial for students to take a “mental health” day once in a while, meaning to take the day off from classes to just relax and not be too stressed. I feel as though this is a topic that is important for college students to educate themselves about, if they have not already, because our mental health plays a significant role in our lives. 

It does not matter if we are at the happiest point of our life; our mental health still matters. One thing I truly believe everyone needs to do is to check in on our friends, even the happy ones. We never truly know what someone could be going through, so checking in on them whenever we have the chance can truly impact that person. Being a good friend goes a long way, more than we could ever know. There have been numerous times when a couple of my friends, the ones who are the life of the party, always happy and are never complaining, are the ones that need someone there for them and just want to be checked up on. I have offered a helping hand to my friend, even when they did not seem upset, because as friends, we should be checking in on them. Mental health matters. Ours, our family, our friends, our teammates, even the people we do not like everyone’s mental health matters.