With the increasing awareness of the necessity of overall health among college students, more and more roads to receiving that help are becoming available. However, though these resources are prevalent on many campuses such as our own, it is unclear if students are using those resources to their advantage.
The UNC-Greensboro Counseling Center has a large professional staff that are ready to work with students free of charge, as costs are included in school enrollment fees. The question remains whether or not students are actually taking advantage of these resources.
A number of factors, including the fading yet still existent negative stigma associated with mental health, could be to blame.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), conducted a research study that found that one in four students have a diagnosable illness, while 40 percent of those college students are not seeking help.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the American Psychological Association (APA), states that depression is the most common mental health disorder. The American College Health Association (AACU) found that college students refer to depression as one of the major roadblocks to academic achievement.
Then what is the other roadblock culprit? Anxiety. NAMI also reported that “more than 50 percent of students have felt overwhelming anxiety…” to the point that it has interfered with successful academic performance.
Furthermore, suicide rates among college campuses are not getting any better. NAMI reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death on university grounds.
On top of mental illness, excessive alcohol consumption and poor eating habits – both prevalent on college campuses – can make matters even worse. This is where things get complicated.
As students strive to maintain a social life, they may also simultaneously be fueling their depression with alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant itself, it can exacerbate a person’s already depressed state.
While factors that lead to mental illness are not a ‘one size fits all’ matter, there is some evidence that poor eating can definitely play a role.
According to a Nutritional Neuroscience study conducted in 2017, participants who ate a Mediterranean diet over a period of six months had experienced reduced depression.
Additionally, in the American Journal of Public Health, studies found that poor nutrition among children led to worsened mental health.
Though universities provide immense opportunity and experiences for students, are they also a breeding ground for mental health issues to surface? And if so, what can be done?
UNCG already has great resources readily available for its students. However, as research shows, students are not utilizing them to their fullest potential.
According to NAMI, even more mental health services need to be available across campuses. It suggests peer-run mental health training for not just some of the faculty, but also for staff and the students themselves. Initiating ways to upend the negative stigma attached to mental illness could also be of use, as NAMI reveals it’s the “number one reason students don’t seek help”.
If you would like to seek assistance, the UNCG Counseling Center can be found on the second floor of the Anna M. Gove Health Services Center Monday through Thursday from 8am to 6pm and on Fridays from 8am to 5pm.