I went to college with high hopes. I wanted to be a journalist at the time, and couldn't wait to start all my classes, meet new people, do new things, and just figure out more of who I was going to be. The first few weeks were good. I met great new friends, had an awesome roommate, was enjoying almost all of my classes.
Then things changed quickly. After about a month and a half, I started having trouble getting out of bed for my morning classes. Then I didn't want to get out of bed for my afternoon classes. I wasn't eating very often, but when I did, it was nothing but junk food. I started feeling overwhelmed by college life. I started having negative thoughts about myself.
"You can't do this."
"You aren't good enough for college."
"You're too stupid for all of this."
"Just go home. But then your parents will be disappointed in you. So you might as well just disappear."
Thank goodness my mom called me one day. I was skipping class again. Too tired and sad to go to class. She asked me what was going on since my grades were slipping (by a landslide). I told her how I was feeling, and she sent me straight to the campus health clinic. The rest is history.
Lots of kids are starting college this year. Somewhere between 18 and 19 million actually. That's a lot of students (and that's just the freshmen)! About 30% of all college students reported feeling depressed sometime during their four years. And only 5-10% get help or treatment. That's a huge percentage gap!
So what are you supposed to look out for? Any signs of depression. While often referred to as "College Depression," it's really just depression that starts during college. So any of the typical depression signs are something to watch out for. A change in class attendance and grades dropping is also something to watch out for.
How can we help all of these students? Talk about it! Many students don't seek help because they fear not fitting in, being looked down on, being embarrassed. The more openly we talk about, the better everyone (not just students) will be. And almost every college campus in America has a counseling center where you can seek help. If your campus doesn't, go to the student health center. They will also be able to give you at least some temporary treatment until you can see your own doctor or health care professional.
Remember students, mental illness is nothing something to be ashamed of, but it's also not something that should be swept under the rug. Make sure you ask for help. Your friends and family will help you in any way they can, and you never know, they might be suffering too. You could potentially open up a door for both of you to heal.
HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR!