7 Rules For College Students To Maintain Mental Health
There have been increased cases of mental health issues among college students of late. The most common mental health issues prevalent among this group include anxiety disorders, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorders (GAD), eating disorders and attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These can come about as a result of financial issues, academic pressure, work, family responsibilities, separation from family, living alone, irresponsible substance use as well as relationships with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds and beliefs. All these factors and trying to juggle adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it can be overwhelming. So what can we do to ensure that we take care of our mental health?
Ignorance is not bliss, especially not with the continuing rise in the number of mental health illnesses reported among young adults. The first step towards fighting an illness or condition is accepting that it exists and seeking more information about it. Assuming that something cannot happen to us will not prevent it from happening – just like wishing away the deadlines for submitting research papers does not mean that the papers will not be due within the specified timeline. Information is power and the more aware we are about mental health, the better the chances we will have to promote our health and that of the people around us.
We are what we eat. This is a common phrase that very few would link to mental health. Nutrition is crucial for proper functioning and development of our bodies and minds. An unhealthy diet is a risk for developing depression and anxiety while nutrition psychology links food allergies to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. So, before you go on a diet of pizza and soda, all in the name of not having enough time to prepare a proper meal, first think about your mental health. After all, you will be required to be in the proper mindset in order to work effectively on the term paper writing or when preparing for exams.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Very many cases of mental health illnesses are left undiagnosed and untreated. This could be due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and the costs of the treatments. Parents and guardians of college students need to find out information about insurance and medical cover for the treatment of mental health conditions. They should also encourage their children to seek help in case of any stress or triggers that may affect their mental health. Technology is also helpful for diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues with a majority of college students admitting to using the internet to research about a particular condition and its treatment. This is because of technology guarantees anonymity; also, it is cost-effective and always available.
Adults require at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. While going out every night of the week or pulling all-nighters before an exam may be considered the norm in college, these habits may be detrimental to our mental health, as innocent as they seem. The brain needs to time to relax and regenerate, so to speak. With all the responsibilities and juggling between classes, jobs, and relationships, we need to remember to take care of us by getting enough sleep so as to be in better shape mentally. This we need to handle the happenings of the next day and to give the brain time to process the events of the day that was.
Playing video games or watching Netflix all day may sound more appealing than going for a walk or playing sports for the average college student. In addition, we may hardly find time to schedule a quick out between classes and assignments. Regular exercise is linked to proper mental health as it boosts the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Besides, studies show that people who exercise regularly are generally happier and less stressed than those who do not and are in better shape, mentally and physically.
Responsible Substance Use
College is the time to party and try out new things. It is said that we only regret the things we did not do and not the things we did. However, an irresponsible substance such as binge drinking, nicotine and cannabis abuse as well as misusing prescription medicine may lead to conditions such as alcohol use disorder. It can also lead to impaired memory and attention affects our ability to make correct judgments in various situations. Responsible substance use should be advocated for among college students in order to reduce the number of cases of injuries, sexual harassment, and deaths that are usually linked to overdosing and overindulging in alcohol and other drugs.
Safe Sexual Practices
Being in college gives us the freedom to experiment sexually. It is a time when everyone is mature enough or at least within the legal age to explore themselves. However, like with every other situation while in college, this can also be misused. Therefore, it should be everyone’s responsibility to promote safe and healthy sex practices like use of condoms, getting screened regularly for sexually transmitted diseases and consent. This will help in avoiding the stress that comes with the fear of unplanned pregnancies, rape or catching diseases. It is better to be safe than sorry.
The mental health of any individual is vital to their overall health. College is an important time for young adults as it is when one is trying to shape his/her future. Therefore, taking care of our mental health should be our sole priority in each and every task we undertake. Reaching to those around us who may be suffering from these conditions will help reduce the stigma associated with it and perhaps more people will come out and seek help. Mental health should become a trend for college students just like social media.