A recent survey finds that 50 per cent of college students have recently faced a problem relating to their mental health. The study reported that less than half of these students are receiving treatment or help for these concerns. Results that emphasise why attention to mental health should be viewed as an essential part of academic success plans, particularly at the college level.
The open nature of colleges may be one reason for the high incidence of mental health concerns, according to this study it was also observed that the general age group for college students is where a lot of conditions come to light. “The commencement of 50 per cent of chronic cases of mental illness occur by age 14 and 75 per cent by age 24.” The stresses, mentally and physically, of progression to adulthood often push young adults into suffering these deep-rooted conditions.
Reports have indicated increasing anxiety and depression in colleges with overwhelming counselling centres. These may seem less important than other chronic mental illness, but all conditions of student life affect student success on an academic level, as well as the quality of life. There are far-reaching ramifications of untreated mental health.
Not only is there a direct effect on the individuals well-being, but there are also serious, resulting consequences, including higher utilisation of medical care and social services, for example, unemployment, criminal justice, job skills, productivity, unhealthy coping behaviours (e.g., substance use, problems in interpersonal relationships and increased risk of violence.
Low-income and minority students may also show signs of mental illness because they are trying to fit into a new environment. Micro-aggressions add up, and colleges need to make sure that key people such as academic advisers, for example, are tuned-in as to how mental health and academic performance interact and how to help student’s access support services. There needs to be a basic yet broad-based level of mental health service in colleges integrated with local health and mental health services. Building those relationships takes a sensitive effort on the part of administration and staff.
College counselling and advisement at colleges have traditionally focused on career services, scheduling, and academic issues. Mental health concerns are counselled with on a temporary basis, before referring elsewhere for long-term treatment. Anxiety also has been found to associate to addiction and drug abuse.
Unfortunately, it takes academic failure to make people realise there is a problem. Students may for the first time be away from home, not eating or taking care of themselves and away from the support system they had previously.
Students who may seek mental health services often mimic what occurs in community mental health; they don’t commit. When an individual takes on mental health therapy, it takes time, commitment, patience and effort. It seems to be inherent in all individuals, this haphazard approach to health. It takes time to improve the health of any type of health- physical, mental or emotional.
With 10 per cent more mental health incidents being noted for college students, continued efforts will be required to make sure appropriate services are being offered. Some free resources are available at organisations such as Time to change. We can make sure college time is a time of growth for every kind of student.