Dark side of the room – mental health on university campuses is bordering on an epidemic

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In any capacity or environment, the topic of mental health is a heavy, sometimes bleak one. There is no environment in which mental health should be taken lightly, and university and college campuses are no different – if anything, these are the environments that desperately need support systems in place for individuals struggling with their mental health. University and college campuses are environments bursting with young, impressionable people, and in addition to constant deadlines, study requirements, and exams, campuses are at best, environments in which students thrive and support one another, and at worst, a pressure cooker waiting to implode. More and more research studies are proving that the number of students willing to step up and embrace help is increasing, and yet for some reason, the support systems in place for these individuals are not always given the appropriate attention and upkeep. Universities and colleges must step forward and make mental health on their campuses a priority, because when university is generally one of the biggest times for change, growth, and stress in a person’s life, it is also bound to be one of the catalysts for mental challenges.

In the past (and unfortunately currently, in some cases) universities have proven their inability to respond appropriately when students have the courage to ask for help. When students are bold enough to use their scared voices to ask for help, the response should always be to reach out to them, to support them, and to make them feel like they are part of the campus community – not alienated from it. Students across the world are consistently thrust into environments of high pressure, looming deadlines, and upcoming examinations – all of which must be balanced simultaneously with the other factors in their life, such as their family, friends, and work schedule. When one puts into consideration the other hurdles that occur in individuals’ lives on a case by case basis, it is little wonder that mental health is such a common fact of life for so many students.

For many students, unfortunately finding themselves in a bright room full of their classmates can sometimes equate to feeling like they are alone on the dark side of the room. It is not something that is always easily recognised, and students do not always understand or feel supported enough to come forward with their struggles to receive the help that they need. As more research and exposure comes out, the focus on mental healthcare should be at an all-time high. However, unfortunately as the culture of stress-induced issues rises, the policies in place to cater to mental health are being forced to the back of the campuses’ and universities’ priorities. It makes no sense, and yet that is the reality in campuses all over the world. While it is the current reality, there is blooming hope that the future of educational faculty’s grasp on mental health will improve, evolve, and shift into something that all students feel comfortable, safe, and supported in accessing.

Continuous deadlines and upcoming exams can feel like a looming black hole, but the good news is that universities and colleges are starting to take the necessary steps to better their understanding and handling of situations surrounding mental health. Students that struggle with large assessment loads – particularly reports and assessments that require intensive research and continuous drafting and reassessing – can now access a world of tools online to help ease the stress of impending assessments, such as online programs that offer dissertation proposal help, online referencing tools, and social media platforms that house groups of support for courses. Technology is assisting students in getting a firmer grasp on their education. In leaps and bounds, the programs and tools available to students online can make all the difference in paving the way to learning to more easily and successfully balance mental health, home life, social life, work, and study.

Students that suffer from mental health problems are never alone, despite the often popular feeling of being disconnected from everything. As the topic of mental health in universities and colleges becomes more exposed (and unfortunately more common), the overwhelmingly incredible thing to emerge is that students everywhere are realising that they are not alone…the stories of complete strangers bond these individuals together, and give students the courage and the support to know that they can get help, that they should not be ashamed of asking for help, and that they have people that care enough to not only listen, but to help be a catalyst for change. There are many coping mechanisms and support processes in place for students dealing with mental health issues.

As mental health in university and college campuses becomes a more widely-discussed topic, universities and colleges must ensure that they are adequately equipped to handle such topics, and to provide the assistance needed for students grappling with these issues. As awareness increases, it becomes apparent that the issue of mental health on campuses is bordering on an epidemic. With the right tools, programs, support, and communication, students that are suffering from mental health issues – either as a direct response to the pressures of study, or otherwise – will be able to confidently speak out about their struggles, and subsequently get the assistance that they need to be able to build on their mental health. Those that suffer from mental health issues should never feel alone, and educational faculties that efficiently and swiftly provide students with the care that they need for these issues will not only thrive internally, but become external examples of what it means to support people struggling – because studying is hard enough, but studying while simultaneously juggling everything else in life can be a straight up nightmare.

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