I am a nursing student and when I first started nursing school, I went in with a positive attitude thinking, “all I must do is try and I should be fine.” That quickly changed after my first couple of exams. I was failing two of my classes and barely passing another. My first semester in the program took a toll on my mental health. After seeing my grades and progress in school it made me feel like I was not good enough to be in the program, and that I could not improve in my courses. I did what my professors told me to do succeed in their classes, but I wasn’t getting the grades that I needed to pass. My adviser even told me that maybe it was best for me to drop the course and to retake it next semester. Then Covid hit and my grades kept dropping once we were online. I felt a lot of stress, pressure, and anxiety trying to pass my classes. There was always the option of dropping the course, but I didn’t want to take that chance because that would mean more money that I didn’t have, and more time added to my graduation.
When I thought about the overwhelming decisions in my life it would increase the stress and anxiety and I couldn’t concentrate in school. I would randomly burst into tears with what I was feeling. I eventually talked to my family and did some research on what I can do to decrease the anxiety that I was having. I learned to better manage my time to where I had free time to relieve stress and relax. By giving myself free time it helped me focus better and improve my grades. Some other changes that I made were my studying habits, removing distractions like my phone or finding a quiet place to study, and making sure that I know when to step back and take a moment to myself so that I wouldn’t swamp myself with schoolwork. Being in this program has made me realize that my mind is just as important as my body and needs to be taken care of.
Just as I went through mental health issues other students are experiencing some of the challenges that I went through. Mental health should be of concern when there are transitional changes occurring in life like moving forward into adulthood and being on your own for the first time. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that 75% of mental health conditions begin by age 24 which makes college students specifically more vulnerable to mental health disorders (1). This may be because they are adjusting to new challenging curriculum, trying to financially support themselves, and may have other responsibilities on top of school responsibilities (1,3); this can put a lot of pressure on a student that can then become stressful and continue into anxiety and maybe develop into depression if it is prolonged (1). We do not think about our mind when trying to balance so much in our life and this will eventually influence our mental health. It can progress and become very serious if the people that are struggling do not seek the help that they need. By not getting help can lead to having a poor performance in school, work or anything that requires you to use your mind and make decisions. It can also steer people that are struggling to drop out of school, turn to bad habits to help them cope with their feelings like alcohol and drug use, self-harm, and sometimes suicide (1,2). Common signs of mental illness include overuse of substances and 18% of U.S. adults with mental illness also have a substance use disorder which is why it is important that they get help as soon as possible (1).
I think that if students know where they can seek help it can prevent the problem from getting worse. About 9% of college students in the United States decide to seek professional help about their issues (2). Students that are struggling should have someone they can talk to in school whether it’s a counselor, teacher, or friend. Getting the help that a person needs is the best option for them to return to full functioning of the brain. I also think that bringing awareness to situations like this can help with preventing mental disorders from getting worse because there would be an increase in early detection with more education. People would be able to express how they are feeling, and others around would be able to notice when someone needs help.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness is an organization that works in your communities to bring awareness, provide support, and education on mental health. They have education programs that will provide more information for anyone that want to learn more. A helpline as a resource to help support those dealing with mental health and let them know that they are not alone and have people who care. NAMI is also working with national public policy so they can bring awareness all over the U.S.
If you know someone that is struggling, do you know what you can do to help? If you are stressed, feeling anxious, or not feeling like yourself do you know where you can seek resources to help? For more information visit NAMI to learn more about how you can help someone that is struggling with mental health illness or where you can get help.
- Managing a Mental Health Condition in College
2. 23 Alarming College Student Mental Health Statistics
3. College Students: Mental Health Problems and Treatment Considerations