When you read headlines such as these, STUDY: 1 In 4 College Students Diagnosed with Mental Health Condition… you might end up wondering “What do those mental health conditions include?” and “How can they be minimized or ended?
Decades ago, a college student’s sense of stress was rather limited to racial problems (e.g., being a racial minority member and wondering how the hell to earn a professor’s respect for your mental prowess let alone the respect of other students, as all of them were focused only on your appearance and irrelevant rumors), or to the emotional ups and downs of sexual relationships, or to the efforts for achieving for academic excellence (e.g., making the Dean’s list, passing exams, earning degrees and progressing into a lucrative, satisfying career based on the efforts that students invested in their college educations), and to securing decent, affordable housing. Today campus life stressors come in many more varieties. Solutions for them, as always, are not limited to the campus infirmary or some chapel. GOD seems to remain rather quiet and uncomforting when college students feel frenzied. Doctors at campus clinics too often focus on looking for signs of venereal disease and pregnancy, not on emotional distress or genuine physical illness
Suicide has always been a college campus problem. Suicidal ideation seems to spread there like a virus. The scientific name for the phenomenon is “Suicide Contagion.” It involves, as one relevant study concluded, “… not only the social support social ties… but also the emotions, behaviors, and values that inhere in those social relations.” In other words, values matter. An individual contemplating suicide is prone to the mindsets of his or her peers, unless, and this is a very important “unless,” their personal and/or peer values prevent them from killing themselves or wanting to. The issues that lead to suicidal thoughts might involve fractured family relationships, damaged friendships, poor grades, uncertainty as to a career path, being socially inept, and so many other factors that we could almost say “Fill in the blank”!
In that vein, a September 6, 2018 article in the journal Depression and Anxiety presented some findings to answer the “What do those mental health conditions include?” and “How can they be minimized or ended?” questions. The conclusions cited a myriad of sexual orientations that only became more common in the past 20 years or so. The orientations tend to leave their practitioners depressed and confused about gender issues. The gender-bending ideas and orientations hadn’t even been listed in previous editions of the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Neither had the Social Justice Warrior phenomenon, which coaxes chronological adults to weep like immature youngsters whining “You’re not nice/fair” complaints to professors thus unable to share learning materials. Instructors can help their students to enhance their abilities to think clearly, let alone with goal-oriented ruminations. College was once where students went to improve their knowledge bases and their thinking skills. Now there is a movement to shut off the dissenting opinions and thought processes which self-serving students dislike. Emotional and intellectual growth are stunted from the day that those students are accepted to the given college or university.
There are other significant stressors to college life, and there are techniques for coping with them, even for getting past them and into a state of increasing happiness. The techniques include friendships and networks that focus on a sense of safety, productivity, balance, and mentoring.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with compassionate, competent mental health professionals is a tactic known to thwart suicidal thoughts and efforts. So is the focusing of mental health treatment on suicidal ideation as a problem all its own, rather than regarding suicidal thoughts as mere symptoms of some other problem.
Another successful mental health intervention is to promote skill developments. College students with skill deficits are in deep trouble when they can’t imagine out how to solve specific problems. Lessons in how to do exactly that can be literal life-savers. To put it another way, consider the fact that some young adults now need “Adulting” classes. Some of them never learned how to cook, how to create budgets nor to balance checkbooks and to pay bills on time, how to develop self-discipline, nor how to care for a home, a car, or other people – including themselves. Some college students lack basic to advanced social skills, too. Learning them is a necessity for a functional rather than a dysfunctional adulthood.