All-nighters, cramming five minutes before class, struggling to remember which courses you signed up for (a literal nightmare at semester’s end for many students) and the effort to even remember if you ate breakfast are the usual stressors of college life. So are romantic relationships, suspicious rashes and aches, hiking, biking or running to class, and demonstrations (go ahead, name one. Trump and the Middle East have many competitors for protest time). Drinking and drugging too much add to the mess. Campus health centers are full beyond capacity with groaning students in physical or emotional pain. And according to this Scientific American article, Surging Demand for Mental Health Care Jams College Services, things seem to be out of control across campuses from coast to coast.
This recap of the original news story gets straight to the point: “A STAT special report by Megan Thielking finds that the nations’ colleges are slammed by a surge in students seeking mental health care — requests that have overwhelmed existing campus health services.”
Sweating out suicidal thoughts, breakups, low grades and other serious problems leave students in immediate, desperate need of mental health services, But, as indicated in the article, “Campus counselors are acutely aware that they’re leaving students stranded but say they don’t have the resources to do better. ‘You’re making sure people are safe in the moment,’ said Ben Locke, who runs a national college counseling network and directs counseling services at Pennsylvania State University. ‘But you’re not treating the depression or the panic attacks or the eating disorders.’”
The need to deal with the source of stressful feelings is the basic reason that mental health services exist for any population. But adrenaline and the sense of urgency seem to rocket upwards on college campuses, where hormones run hot and heavy any time of day even without the need to excel in your studies.
The truth for college students, however, is more complicated than that. College students tend to experience their emotions and mental health challenges with a greater sense of urgency than other groups of people experiencing the same emotions. It’s because their entire lives are on the line 24/7 all semester long. Futures are being decided in exam results and GPAs, in the ability – or lack of it – to successfully interact with instructors, social plus social action activities, and in the skill to forge ahead despite setbacks No Matter What. Even if you’ve broken up with someone, someone you deeply love died, or other stressors enter your life, college schedules require fully functioning students.
Though college administrators and accountants are surely looking for affordable ways to correct the problem, no solutions have been announced yet. That’s excruciatingly hard on vulnerable people who need immediate attention and to calm down before they hurt themselves.
Sensible actions for the time being include searching for answers from family and/or personal medical insurance that allows access to mental health therapists. Searching browsers for 24/7 access to qualified therapists in your area is another option. You can also stay alert for campus, social media and other forms of updates that mental health services will be expanding on your campus.
There’s another choice to make, and it involves judicious thinking: As individuals recruit campus residents to demonstrate against some cause, rethink the need to become involved in still more stress. Royal figures have not knighted nor damed you with the order to save the world. Nobody commanded from Heaven that you and you alone will solve world problems. You certainly can’t try to do so until after your own issues are under control, anyway. Focus on saving your psyche, preserving your physical health, and being involved in activities which soothe you. Stay in close contact with friends and instructors who soothe you, and indulge in down time. That can improve, even save, your life.