Awareness of mental health is a critical issue for educators who are often their students’ first line of defense. Education practitioners have acknowledged the effect on the learning and success of a student’s mental health, and they know that there is a lot that can be done to help students with mental health problems.
Most students feel anxiety when they first perceive themselves in a mental health issue, as they may not be able to figure out what’s causing it and how to deal with it. Students who have previously felt anxious when communicating in public, but have unexpectedly encountered intense fear, struggle reasonably to find out what has changed. Factors like significant life changes, academic pressure, relationship or family difficulties, and money problems can all contribute to mental health issues.
Anxiety, Stress, Depression: What’s What?
When this is felt in stages, anxiety can be a common part of childhood, but students with ongoing symptoms often have an anxiety disorder that can be treated. More than any other non-academic causes, stress and anxiety impair academic success. Stress and anxiety can both lead to impaired memory, poor judgment, and racing thoughts, aside from hurting concentration. Depression and anxiety, as well as lack of relaxation, agitate the emotional spectrum, leading to procrastination or, for some students, “self-medication” through drug and alcohol consumption. Anxiety and stress can also be physically manifested, causing chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat.
Depression is tremendously draining and can prevent teenagers from taking part in daily activities, doing schoolwork, and completing assignments. People with depression can experience a variety of symptoms, including panic attacks, low energy and mood swings, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and poor concentration. It can be challenging for students to be motivated when depression occurs, as it affects the way they prepare for exams, attend classes, or work on assignments. If the disorder is not diagnosed and treated immediately, students may have a more difficult time academically when they go from one level to another.
Statistics of Mental Health on College Students
Higher academic institutions tackle the well-being of students inside and outside the premises of the classroom. In terms of digital technology, there are new motivational and inspirational tools that can be acquired online, as well as creative strategies to classroom teaching; whether you are an instructor, staff member, administrator, or conscientious parent who chooses to support the university student’s well-being.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 persons deal with some mental disorder. The signs of mental health problems show at 14 years old, but most people don’t seek help until they reach adulthood. About 60 percent of high school students with mental illness do not graduate. NAMI also noted that, depending on how well they take care of themselves, exercise, sleep, and diet can help students feel more comfortable or even worse.
Researchers surveying nearly 14,000 first-year college students in eight countries in 2018 found that 35 percent were struggling with a mental illness, especially in depression and anxiety. College students who are seeking mental health care in the U.S. state that their primary concern is anxiety and it is on the rise.
Active Minds, on a much larger scale, is a nationwide mental health advocacy organization that currently operates more than 450 branches on campus. Students need to realize that if they experience anxiety and depression, they do not need to feel ashamed— that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Researchers evaluated 1,129 students in 12 California universities three times during the academic year, in a 2018 study of Active Minds. This is to determine their engagement with Active Minds and their related mental health behaviors and awareness. At the beginning of the school year, students with relatively low to moderate participation with Active Minds showed an increase in understanding of mental health and a decline in the negative, marginalizing views toward mental disorders by the end of the year. Notably, it has been reported that they are more likely to help another student in distress, for example, through emotional support or linking them to resources via Active Minds after participation in student-run events.
Through a Speaker’s Bureau, sharing stories of hope, a mobile “Send Silence Packing” exhibit to promote awareness and reduce suicide, and also peer-run mental health groups and support networks, Active Minds is expanding the mental health awareness program and using peer-to-peer outreach power to modify the campus culture.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among students between the ages of 10 and 24. Roughly 90% of people with suicidal tendencies suffer from an underlying mental condition. It has been recorded that due to academic pressure and dropping out, 37% of students 14 years old or older with mental health issues commit suicide. Around 70 percent of young people in local or state juvenile justice institutions have a mental illness and ultimately commit suicide.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America discovered that anxiety affects one in every eight children, yet no treatment is given to 80 percent of those with a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Children may develop long-term illnesses without therapy, treatment, and other useful tools to treat anxiety. Reports of anxiety disorders among K-12 children have increased since the 1950s and may continue to rise in the coming years.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) discloses that, upon reaching 18, 11% of children develop a depressive disorder. Those who have at least one depressive parent have a higher risk of developing depression themselves.
Mental Health Awareness Programs in Colleges
Students and teachers should be equipped with strategies to identify signs of emerging mental health issues, and resources should be given in terms of mental health crisis knowledge and management, such as the risk of self-harm or suicide. Also, education will handle the association between substance abuse, mental health, and other undesirable behaviors of adjustment, and the negative effect of mental illness stereotypes and cultural norms.
Colleges offer counseling sessions on alcohol and drug use, prevention of sexual violence, and other topics related to student physical and mental health. During personal orientation sessions, several colleges are starting to exchange mental health knowledge with students constructively.
Approaches range from conventional lectures and symposiums to role-plays, short videos, and case studies from students accompanied by small group gatherings. Through this, students will learn how to identify symptoms of mental illness, where to find support and resources, and how to communicate with friends who may be struggling with mental health concerns.
Experts in mental health in New York acknowledged that early mental health interventions could lead to more positive results for such students. The New York’s School Mental Health (SMH) program’s overall mission is to encourage healthy behavioral, emotional, and mental growth of children and remove barriers to education so that the overall well-being of school staff, families, and students can be improved in conjunction with other extensive student services and support.
The SMH plan promotes both students’ emotional health and intellectual development through the incorporation of comprehensive programs and assistance in all stages. It also entails the following:
- The evaluation of universal, selective and tailored approaches to determine mental health needs,
- The provision of access to services and programs for psychological and mental health,
- The use of senior staff, such as those employed with the Department of Education, to provide the required services and support,
- The establishment of mutual partnerships between the communities and families of the students.
Students with problems in mental health should not suffer in silence. There is a range of available resources that can guide in dealing with their illness, seeking help, and a better understanding of what they are going through. These are the following resources that can help:
American Psychological Association. The website of the American Psychological Association contains information on the correlation between mental health and performance at school, advice on emotional stability, and areas on where assistance is readily available.
MentalHealth.gov. Operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the website provides practical advice on how to identify and handle mental health problems, where and how to seek support, and determine critical red flags.
Mental Health America. MHA offers a wide range of useful programs, digital screening tools that help find vital information and resources that will be useful to teachers, parents, and students.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. The website of this non-profit organization has discussion groups, advice on how to deal with mental disorders through a healthy lifestyle, and information on various diseases.
National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH has tools to explain how youth and adults are affected by mental disorders and information on where and how to receive treatment.
Teen Mental Health. TMH offers a mental health curriculum, a supporting toolbox, active social media networks, and health programs for the appropriate and professional assistance to teenagers with mental health problems.
Top Schools with Mental Health Awareness and Support Programs
OnlineSchoolsCenter.com supports and commends all the efforts of colleges and universities across the United States to educate, and promote awareness and understanding of mental health and mental health issues. On this list are the country’s best higher education institutions with the most appropriate support, strategies, and tools for every individual’s mental health needs.
Campus Location: Evanston, Illinois
Student input at Northwestern University prompted administrators to turn their attention from professional speakers to testimonials from students. Student participants go through alumni accounts describing their mental health issues and how they are seeking help.
Storytelling undoubtedly resounded more with the students as they were able to relate more emotionally to the shared information. It is essential to deliver information on mental health in such a way that it is applicable and moving with the influx of information that students receive at the beginning of their college journey. This strategy can also help students trying to become isolated.
Since mental illness-related stigma persists, narratives and open discussions are crucial to normalizing mental health issues. Northwestern University explores various organizations through mental health groups seeking to improve awareness and minimize mental illness stereotypes.
Campus Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
One way of overcoming the stigma is through the encouragement of students to control their mental health just as they evaluate their physical health. To this end, some colleges normalize mental health screenings through their students with safe, readily available tests.
The Recreation Center at Drexel University has a kiosk for mental health where students could get a check-up. Students have a few minutes to answer a list of questions. Students are given information about potential mental health resources and interventions as required towards the end of the screening.
You might need assistance in finding detailed information about specific resources, on and off-campus, aside from the services that the Counseling and Health provides. Handouts and presentations on several topics related to mental health are provided along with connections to additional online information. At outreach meetings and seminars, these tools help answer any questions you may have.
University of California Los Angeles
Campus Location: Los Angeles, California
A more formalized screening option is currently available at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Researchers are conducting extensive online screenings to measure anxiety and depression in 100,000 students, staff, and faculty as part of an interdisciplinary research project to solve major global health issues.
This four-year test, the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, includes an interactive examination of 15 minutes in which participants discover whether they may have moderate to severe depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide. They may receive mental health care, including therapy, a referral to obtain qualified peer support, or the opportunity to participate in an online learning program called This Way Up, if needed. Therefore, throughout these four years, researchers regularly track participants.
Programs such as This Way Up, affiliated with the New South Wales University, allow students a better understanding of their feelings such as fear, anxiety, tension, and interact with a clinician who can track their progress, as well as participate in free self-help online courses.
Florida State University
Campus Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Recently, Florida State University created an online trauma recovery teaching tool built through the Institute of Family Violence Studies and their Social Work program. The creators of the Student Resilience Project agreed that several students have endured “major community and family stress” and that stress can impair their performance. To foster student attributes and management strategies, Florida State University has also required both new and transfer students to engage in the program that includes videos, presentations, and TED-talk-style virtual sessions
Campus Location: Stanford, California
Stanford’s Resilience Project features personal storytelling as well as academic skills coaching. In a range of online video clips, many students and alumni describe the intense self-doubt they experienced when they arrived on campus. They eventually disclose some of the ideas they have learned along the way, telling stories of perseverance. To start celebrating learning from failures, students share in an annual event called “Stanford, I Screwed Up” their “epic failures” through songs, videos, poetry, and comedy.
Considering the lack of mental health services on campuses, online resources, and such programmable activities seem to address a vital need. Most students do prefer local personal support, however.
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Campus Location: Superior, Wisconsin
The Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being was founded through the University of Wisconsin — Superior to raise awareness and well-being among the staff, faculty, and the community. Some of their university-wide options include mindfulness and mental health awareness workshops for new faculty and resident assistants; weekly mindfulness and yoga classes for students, staff and faculty; and a curated collection of mental health, wellness, and mindfulness resources in their college library.
During classes, there is also a very holistic approach to discussing student well-being but remain reluctant to utilize a lot of class time. The school recently piloted the social-emotional learning (SEL) project through the faculty at the University of Wisconsin — Superior and Thiel College in Pennsylvania.
University of Sioux Falls
Campus Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Another alternative is to text for help. Sioux Falls University is one of the first South Dakota colleges to give their students a free text hotline. The non-profit program, Text4Hope, has a goal of providing alternatives for college students if they are concerned about a particular friend, overwhelmed by academic stress, or feeling suicidal, anxious, or depressed. The Helpline Center’s professional staff is ready to respond 24/7 to messages. They also allow students to try out their Instagram feed with encouraging words that students take throughout the state around colleges and universities.
Campus Location: Seattle, Washington
Seattle University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program trains mental health professionals to be compassionate, positive, and competent leaders and impact advocates to work in college, government, hospital, and mental health settings.
The mental health awareness program is one of the leading programs in the training of counseling for mental health. It is also ranked as the top counseling program in Seattle based on program completion rate, job placement rate, licensing exam pass rates, accreditation duration, faculty quality, and tuition costs. Throughout their specific areas of research, the counseling staff is comprised of national leaders. At the state and national levels, the counseling staff is also interested in aspects of professional mental health counseling.
The program is also the only program in the country where students are entitled after graduation to obtain the certification of Washington State drug use disorder. The university’s professional mental health services graduates are placed in this category to provide comprehensive care. Program members are required to provide therapy for both drug addiction and mental health. They leave with an in-depth understanding of addiction and mental health problems, sound clinical skills, and social justice commitment.
Pennsylvania State University
Campus Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
The university’s Office of Student Mental Health and Counseling (OSMHC) has been structured with sensitivity, integrity, and confidentiality to meet the needs of Penn State College of Medicine students. All mental health problems are taken seriously, and there is no small question to be addressed.
The office does appointment-based work. But in most situations, professionals should be able to respond during business hours to a mental health emergency. If a specific urgent situation drives students extreme panic, they can contact the office and indicate the need for immediate attention.
University of California-Berkeley
Campus Location: Berkeley, California
The mental health awareness program of the university aims to help students, faculty, and staff to continue growing even as the need for help continues to grow. The University Health Services (UHS) component of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recorded an 8 percent rise from the school year 2017 to 2018 in students looking for support.
On the other hand, the Be Well at Work – Employee Assistance system provides short-term therapy, referral, elderly care services, management assessments, and seminars as well as training tailored to departmental requirements at no cost to faculty and staff.
CAPS offers a range of support groups for students concerning formal therapy and counseling sessions. Others concentrate on common issues (social anxiety, relationship issues, changes, and moods) and others on shared identity (ethnicity, gender, and race).