Despite the growing understanding and acceptance of mental health concerns, nothing can prepare freshmen for the reality of dealing with it in college. As I began my first year, I found it extremely difficult to adjust to my new reality. For those who already struggle with mental health issues, the changes that occur in college can be very strenuous to handle. From having to make new friends, to being away from home, there are enough changes to cope with to severely damage mental health.
A big contribution to declining mental health in college includes social media. Once settled into college, it can still be a struggle to make new friends and put yourself out there. Watching your friends from home at their new universities with all of their new friends can be alienating, especially when you are struggling in that area. For me, the biggest struggle is rediscovering yourself in a new place. Our anxieties are at an all time high when our brains cannot grasp the new reality that surrounds us. It is so easy to retreat into your own head and just simply pass the time without truly experiencing everything college has to offer. The transition from high school to college can be isolating, since you are forced to acclimate to a new environment that is completely unfamiliar. The classes, professors, and curriculum are so different from high school, and the stress level from this can also cause high anxiety. Even though I am still struggling with my mental health as I adjust, I believe getting involved and going outside of comfort zones is essential to treating your mental health. Creating new routines, being organized, and leaving time to actually enjoy yourself is necessary to stay positive and even sane. It’s also important to reach out for help if you find it difficult to adjust and/or you feel your mental health slipping. Whether it’s with friends, family, on-campus facilities, or personal therapists, having honest conversations about your mental health during all of these changes is critical.
Although handling mental illness in college can be scary, there are always people and resources to turn to so you never feel alone!