You, Your Education, and Your Mental Health

Anyone who’s been to college knows that it’s simultaneously the greatest and the most difficult time of your life. Juggling classes, a social life, extracurriculars, and (possibly) a work life can be a daunting challenge– so much so that physical and mental health can take a backseat sometimes.

Personally, I can think of plenty of times that I have gone at least 20 hours without sleep in order to get homework done and get quality study time. I know there’s been times when I’ve skipped a meal or two because I was preoccupied with my classes or my job. I’ve even had some days when I’ve been so mentally exhausted that I’ve emotionally checked out in order to recuperate; or, I take out my mental frustrations on those around me (which never, EVER ends well).

In short, college is stressful– and it takes a heavy toll on some students.

Graphic courtesy of National Alliance on Mental Illness.

According to the American Psychological Association, a survey done of college students in 2013 found that 41.6% had experience with severe anxiety while in college; 36.4% said they had experienced depression. These were just the highest percentages, too– some college students experienced those and more.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness had similar (and somewhat more striking) statistics: 1 in 5 students in college are affected by a mental health illness. Plus, three-quarters of all mental health illnesses emerge by age 24– which is well within the collegiate age range.

These statistics are exactly why mental health should be a huge focus not only for college students but for universities in general. Making mental health services available to students, in such a stressful environment, is a must for college campuses– not only because it keeps students safe and healthy, but because ill students can’t study and pay their tuition.

OU’s Goddard Health Center. Courtesy of

My university, the University of Oklahoma, offers mental health counseling at our very own health facility, Goddard Health Center. The counseling center offers one-on-one counseling, group counseling, and psychiatric therapy, among many more treatment options. Since I started at OU, it has been made clear to me numerous times that if I were ever to have any problem, mentally or physically, that I had somewhere to go where I could find someone who would listen. Other universities should follow OU’s lead and make sure that students know they are cared for and heard, especially where mental health is concerned.

Mental health so often gets swept under the rug; it’s time for us, as college students, to call attention to it when it’s already so prevalent on our campuses. We should let others know that it’s okay to not be okay, and that if they need help, there’s always someone there. If college is supposed to be the best years of our lives, it shouldn’t be riddled with anxiety, depression, and other illnesses.

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