Universities need to address mental illness

As many of us already know, mental illness is a growing problem.

With social media seen as a staple routine in teenagers’ lives, mental illnesses seem to be much more common.

A growing concern throughout institutions across the country is the fear of students being overworked and as a result, developing anxiety or depression.

Because these conditions pervade schools throughout the country, so why aren’t colleges speaking up about the mental health of their students?

Many people on Twitter talk about the “mental breakdowns” they have near the end of the semester due to stress from school and work.

According to Gregg Henriques from Psychology Today, there are studies that have found that “between a quarter and a third of students meet the criteria for an anxiety or depressive illness during their college experience.”

Despite this fact, still, college administrators don’t talk about mental illnesses as much as they speak about healthy eating or exercising.

The number of students who suffer from mental illnesses does not seem to be decreasing.  

In fact, the rate of mental illnesses has increased.

According to Psychology Today, a study conducted in 2000 found that “the average high school student has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950s.”

Not only is this fact disturbing, but it also shows us how little our society does to help those suffering from mental illnesses.

People turn a blind eye to mental illness thinking it can cure itself or simply go away on its own, but we can see that is not true.

Colleges do not want to address the facts of mental illness because that means that they will have to come to terms with the fact that there is something seriously wrong with their institutions.

Not once during my undergraduate career, so far, have schools worked to educate us on the prevalence of mental illness.

The fact that suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students is terrifying.

This must be seriously addressed.

And more students should know this.

Colleges must bring awareness to the fact that students suffer from mental illnesses and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Many students shy away from seeking professional help when they’re stressed or anxious because they believe that it is a part of college.

Working long hours at work or at school isn’t healthy.

All-nighters and long, exhausting school weeks should not be a part of the college experience.

This should not be normalized.

Anxiety and depression are not the only illnesses that college students can suffer from. Eating disorders and alcohol abuse are also common.

Henrique says, nearly “20 percent of the more than 1,000 college students surveyed—both male and female—said they had or previously had eating disorders.”

On the other hand, Psychology Today reports that “30 percent of students met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse.”

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation states that alcoholism is typically not been seen as a mental illness, but according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “alcoholism is classified as a substance abuse disorder.”

Many people see alcoholism as a physical disease instead of a mental one which feeds into the stigmatization of mental illnesses in society and on college campuses.

We can attribute such high rates of mental illness to the academic and financial expectations placed on students.

Not only is college getting more expensive, but the requirements for school are growing.

Bachelor’s degrees are becoming less important as workplaces are looking for people with higher education experience, such as a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Additionally, college tuition is also skyrocketing.

According to Emmie Martin of CNBC Make It, tuition from 1987 to 1988 was between $3,000 and $15,000.

Now, tuition is between $10,000 and $34,000.

This financial burden places a lot of stress on students trying to pay for school and maintain a good GPA.

Wondering “what am I doing with my life?” occurs a lot during a student’s undergraduate career.

Many students are trying to figure out if they want to go to graduate school, take a year off or begin their career immediately.

All these things students have to think about add to the already growing amount of stress they have with classes.

Colleges need better resources for students suffering from mental illnesses, and they also need to do a better job of having these conversations.

By starting the conversation, colleges can help end the stigma against mental illnesses.

Sydney Karlos is a freshman studying journalism.

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