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The Importance of a Sound Mental Health in College Students’ Lives

 

Becoming a college student or making your way through college can be filled with decisions, stress, and responsibilities. It will call for special attention to your emotional state and the need to find outlets and ways to deal with unwanted/overwhelming feelings. Mental health in college is an extremely important aspect of your experience, whether you’re attending an online college or visiting a campus. 

 

To better understand why mental health matters and how you can take care of yours, read on. 

 

 

Source: Unsplash 

 

 

What is Mental Health?

 

Mental health refers to emotions and how you approach situations in life. With good or healthy mental health, you’ll be able to approach challenges, minimize stress, and overcome obstacles. Your mental health will also impact how you socialize and your motivation in relation to your academics. 

 

Mental health is affected by a variety of factors, including one’s genetics, family history, experiences, environment, and more. Regardless of the current state of your mental health, there are things you can practice within your control to improve your mental health (more on this soon). 

 

 

What are Common Mental Health Issues for College Students?

 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 75% of mental health conditions start before the age of 24. Given that this is likely to occur during college, it’s helpful to understand what to look out for. Common mental health problems include (but are not limited to):

 

  • Depression: Depression looks and feels different for everyone, but some of its common symptoms are: uncontrollable emotions, fatigue, thoughts of death or suicide, and an overarching sense of hopelessness or sadness. 
  • Suicidal thoughts: Suicidal thoughts don’t occur with symptoms. If you feel trapped or unable to carry on, ask for help. If you know someone who needs help, reach out for them. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at: 1-800-273-8255. 
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is an all too common emotion, but with rising pressure and stress, anxiety may get out of control. Some symptoms of anxiety include: sweating, irregular heartbeat, headaches, trouble concentrating, feelings of stress, upset stomach, shortness of breath, or irritability. 

 

 

Reasons to Prioritize Mental Health in College 

 

When you are in college, it’s a good idea to make your own mental health a priority. Not only will this set a foundation for you for the rest of your life, but the experiences you have during college are once in a lifetime. So, you’ll want to make the most of it while being able to deal with whatever life throws your way. 

 

Additionally, when you’re in college, you have a support network for your mental health available. Whether this is through student services and mental health counseling, mentors, parents, peers, or professors, there are people all over that are ready and willing to help you with whatever you may need. 

 

Your mental health in college will have an impact on:

 

  • Your overall health 
  • Your college experience 
  • Your academic outcomes 

 

 

How to Support Strong Mental Health in College 

 

Along with relying on support networks, you can work to strengthen your own health while in college (or at any other point in your life). Here are a few ideas of how you can support your mental health: 

 

 

Time management

 

Working on your time management can help you alleviate stress, which can cause anxiety. Time management is a practice and discipline. There are different ways to boost your time management. Some of these include: setting achievable goals, creating time limits for certain tasks, being organized, scheduling your day in time blocks, planning ahead, and creating a to-do list based on prioritization. At the end of each day, you can review what you accomplished and set your list up for the next day’s events. 

 

 

Organization 

 

Being organized can also impact your mental health. Disorganization may play a role in stress and depression. When you leave things undone or cluttered, it can become draining. With better organization, you could benefit from less stress, better sleep, reduced depression, and wiser decision-making. 

 

 

Support network 

 

Developing a support network can be a game changer when it comes to mental health. When you feel alone, you can reach out to peers, colleagues, friends, neighbors, or even professors. That way, if you need to make a hard decision or are going through difficult thoughts, you have someone by your side to help you through it. 

 

 

Volunteer

 

Volunteering and helping others can increase your endorphins, which make you happy and reduce stress. While you may already feel like you have too much on your plate, if you’re able to set some time to volunteer, it could be worthwhile. Also, there are ways to volunteer without having to dedicate much time to the project at hand. For example, you can donate to a food drive or raise money for a foundation. 

 

 

Get sleep 

 

Without the right amount of sleep, your hormones can go out of whack. Sleep cycles aid in the regulation of hormones like serotonin and dopamine which are necessary to ward off anxiety and depression. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, try natural remedies like: creating a bedtime routine, powering down electronics, making the room very dark, taking a bath, or meditating. 

 

 

Be active 

 

Any type of exercise is better than no exercise! Take up whatever form of activity you enjoy, be it swimming, walking, jogging, biking, pilates, etc. When you work out, you increase blood circulation and can boost your mood naturally. 

 

 

Take breaks 

 

No matter how productive you are and how strong your time management skills can be, you need to take breaks to recuperate. You can take breaks in increments when studying or choose to take a break after you complete certain items on your to-do list. 

 

 

Meditate

 

Meditation is a guided way to reduce the thoughts in your head and quiet your mind. You can begin by meditating for as little as one or five minutes a day and gradually work your way up. Meditation can improve your physical and emotional well-being. 

 

 

Source: Unsplash 

 

 

Final Thoughts 

 

Mental health in college students is of great importance, but the truth is, mental health is necessary at every age. While some of your mental health may be out of your control, these aforementioned techniques can help to improve your overall wellbeing! 

 

 

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