Mental illness: a silent struggle for students

The National Alliance for Mental Illness has declared the first week of October “Mental Health Awareness Week.”

The week is dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and it’s especially important for the one out of four college students who will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year, according to NAMI’s website.

Mental illness may seem to be an issue only for those who are diagnosed, but is in fact much larger.

Seventy-five percent of students with a mental illness never seek help, according to the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Many students consider college to be one of the most challenging and stressful periods of their life.

A 2014 Psychology Today article stated that, in college, “when we look at lifestyle habits—like eating patterns, sexual activity, sleeping and drinking—we see evidence of markedly increasing maladaptive patterns.”

Mark Reck, interim coordinator of the Mind-Body Wellness program at UVM, explained in a March 2016 USA Today College article that, “College students have the opportunity to cultivate the capacity to manage these transitional responsibilities during a sensitive period in their brain development.”graphic-mental-illness

According to NAMI, it’s vital to talk about what comes from these problems because if it is never discussed, the students who are suffering will feel as though they cannot come forward. Of the students who drop out because of their mental illness, 45 percent never sought help for their illness, according to the site.

What should UVM students do about their mental health? A good first step is to address the problem before it starts.

Living Well in the Davis Center features a number of programs and activities, including yoga, meditation and massages meant to alleviate stress and promote a better mental state.

In a March 2016 USA Today College article, Diana Winston, director of Mindfulness Education at the University of California Los Angeles Mindful Awareness Research Center, explained that “Many college students are suffering from anxiety and depression … mindfulness can particularly help people to work with difficult thoughts and emotions.”

The LivingWell page states, “We are dedicated to a holistic approach in supporting the needs of students in their pursuit of creating and maintaining a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.”

LivingWell’s featured events and workshops can be found on the UVM BORED website.

If you enter college with a pre-existing mental illness and that illness becomes too difficult to manage on your own, the next step at UVM is Cousnseling and Psychiatry Services, known as CAPS.

CAPS has three levels of support: Non Urgents, which involves setting up long-term treatment options and discussing a problem that is not immediate; Urgent, a situation where a same-day appointment can be scheduled; and Life Threatening: a situation where emergency services are called.