College Students and Depression

To kick things off today I want to talk about depression and college students.

So there was actually a survey done in 2009 hosted by the American College Health Association National College assessment. Basically it's a nationwide survey of college students in two or four year institutions. They do a survey of a whole bunch of college students and kind of gauge what the state of mental health is for those students. What they found was that nearly 30 percent of the college students surveyed reported feeling:

So depressed that it was difficult for them to function.

OK first of all that is wildly unacceptable. Second of all the suicide statistics that follow suit are just as dramatic and traumatic.

1 in 12 college students actually have a suicide plan in place. So for some perspective at the University of Houston that's over three thousand five hundred students who have a plan to commit suicide.

If that doesn't give you pause then I mean I honestly don't know what will. 

So one in twelve college students have a suicide plan in place. Suicide is actually the second highest cause of death amongst college students.

So those are the facts and the point is here that the far majority of college students are dramatically affected by mental health challenges and coping with this new environment that they have set foot in. It's daunting-it's really scary.

I want to talk about why it is happening and what do we do about it.

So let's talk about the season of college in general. It's really this newfound season of independence for the majority of students that are embarking on that new journey. It's totally new. They're going from a very you know, potentially dependent lifestyle- living at home with family being cared for, to transitioning to being 100 percent accountable for all of their actions. Now I realize that's not the case for everybody for- BUT for the better majority of students that is the case.

You go from dependency to complete and total independence.

That shellshock is intense for a lot of students. And pile that on with this new found measure of accountability. Not only living personally like, "I'm responsible for feeding myself, nobody is cooking me dinner anymore," but also you know the stress that comes with exams and midterms and choosing classes and making sure that I'm getting into the right classes and making sure that I am lining myself up for success as a young adult. Right? 

And it gets even MORE intense as we finish college because now the expectation is "well now it's time to get into a good job... now suddenly it's time to land my career and blah blah blah.".

It's an incredibly stressful and daunting season of life. That transition is hard.

 

So what?

 

Let's go there now. So what do we do about knowing that this is an incredibly stressful season- one that causes anxiety, one that causes and leads to mental health challenges, and students dealing with depression and a newfound level of stress? So what, what do we do about it?

Let's talk about two really huge things that we can do as peers of college students or as someone who has a college student in their life as a loved one.

Thing number one that we can do is LISTEN.

So that goes back to normalizing conversations around mental health but also being acutely aware to listening for signs that maybe somebody needs like legit help. There are things that you should tune your ear in for to identify whether or not maybe somebody you love is suicidal or maybe somebody you love is is actually crying out for help and doesn't know how to articulate it correctly. There are things that you should really be listening in for.

So number one is we can listen.

Number two is we can normalize conversations around mental health by asking bold and intentional questions to those within our group of peers within our little community of people who maybe aren't ok.

Like, "Are you having suicidal thoughts?Are you really struggling with stress right now? What can I do to help? How can I help you help yourself?".

What I've learned and what I've discovered through this Grateful & Company journey is sometimes the stigma isn't identifying that we have a problem like a mental challenge that we're dealing with but more so the stigma is attached to, "OK. Now what?  Is it OK to talk about it? Is it OK to admit that I need help? And when I admit to needing help-how is that perceived within the community that I'm sharing it with?".

So there are a lot of different facets that stigma is attached to, but being bold and courageous when asking questions is one way that we can close that gap between identifying that somebody we love needs help and helping them help themselves get help (if that made any sense at all.).

 And ALSO making mental health resources more accessible and available on college campuses. In another blog I'm gonna break down the current state of availability of mental health resources for the college student community. It's very upsetting and one of the ways that we can help our college student population overcome these new mental health feats that they're dealing with as they enter this new season of life is making sure that every resource is available at all times.  If it's not available because of lack of funding, lack of staffing, lack of resources on campus- whatever- making sure that just because one environment can't provide that another is willing and available to do so. The bar shouldn't stop on campus. If the campus is unable to provide another entity should be recommended for students to be able to provide an outlet for getting help.

NOT having help available is not acceptable.

 

So that was our first blog of content like this. I hope it brought you value. I think it's pretty cool. I like this format. It feels very informal it feels very real. Let me know what you think. Feedback is always appreciated-please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your feedback on the information that I've talked about as well as just feedback on this format in general.

Thank you guys for being a part of this community. And stay tuned.