Mental Health in College

College is scary and it comes with a lot of stress and new experiences. For some, moving away from home isn’t the first move in their life, but for others (like me) it is the first big move. I grew up in Illinois in the same house for all of my life. Moving to Nashville to attend Belmont was the first time I had moved out of my home and into a different space. I was extremely excited to move in to my dorm room but as the day approached, nerves began to creep in alongside my excitement. I was worried about my classes, how I would know that my major was what I wanted to study and pursue as a life-long career, how being so far from home would feel, and many other items. 


Soon, the stress of taking at least 12 classes a semester (yes classes, not credits), trying to make new friends, and constantly feeling like I was alone took its toll on me. I began to skip class and my mental health took a dip. However, I was embarrassed to say anything about it. I felt like I was the only one feeling this way, as it seemed that everyone around me was having the best time of their lives and adjusting well when I felt quite the opposite of that. 

I felt like I was lost and in the wrong place. I began to question my place here at Belmont and my choice of major. If you find yourself feeling the same way, here are some things you can do about it. 


1. Start a journal

            Journaling may seem like something out of a middle school movie, but it really is a good way to let out your emotions and process the way you’re feeling. Putting your emotions down on paper instead of keeping them in your head is a cathartic release. Even if you type up how you’re feeling on your computer, doing so may help you feel better and make you learn more about yourself. 

2. Partake in restorative activities 

            Instead of doing mindless activities like binge-watching Netflix or staring at Facebook, do something that is restorative for you. If you like to read, treat yourself to a trip to McKay’s or the library. If you love coffee, try out a new coffeeshop and relax there for a while. If you enjoy concerts, get tickets to an artist you’ve always wanted to see. Participating in activities that fill you up will make you feel better than numbing yourself with activities that leave you with nothing. 


3. Talk to someone 

            If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, etc. consider talking to someone. The counseling services here on Belmont’s campus are staffed by great people and are free for students. They are welcoming, and extremely trustworthy. They accept walk-in’s or you can call them at 615-460-6856. Counseling services is on the second floor of the Gabhart student center in Suite 209. 


4. Take breaks from school work

            School is very important but so is your mental health! If you are extremely stressed, it’s okay to skip a class or two. You shouldn’t skip them all, of course, but every once in a while it is okay to give yourself that extra time. It’s also important to give yourself breaks while doing homework or studying for a big test. For every 45 minutes of work you do, give yourself a 15 minute break. However, during your 15 minute break you should participate in activities that are restoring for you, as stated in number two. 


5. Turn off notifications on your phone 

            It is so easy to get attached to our phones and the security blanket they are. When people feel awkward for walking alone or eating alone, often they pull out their phone or put in earbuds and listen to music. I know that I’m guilty of this. Most times I go to social media like Instagram or Facebook. These apps can be a fun way to stay in touch with people from home, but they can also be an easy way to compare yourself to others. This can quickly take a toll on your mental health; seeing the good and perfect looking ways of life people present on social media compared to your behind the scenes moments is an unfair way to treat yourself. If you turn off notifications for these apps on your phone, you may be inclined to spend less time looking at them and more time investing in yourself and those around you. 

If you or someone you love is in crisis, do not be embarrassed or afraid to call a hotline number for help. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has a list of crisis phone numbers here

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