Leaving home for college may increase mental health problems – The Oakland Press


This year, college and university students will face unprecedented stress as school officials once again welcome people to campuses amid the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the Delta variant .

Moving from home to live on campus or to an apartment near the school has always been an exciting and anxious time for students. Traditionally, taking this major step in life has come with additional stressors, including a rigorous class schedule, making new friends, and adjusting to new responsibilities. However, this year students face additional stressors, such as severe fear and anxiety of being infected, and the potential to be isolated from loved ones and friends, which creates a risk. higher mental health crisis.

Before COVID-19, surveys of students from the American College Health Association (ACHA) found that in around 2019 60 percent of those surveyed said they often felt “overwhelming” general anxiety while 40% experienced depression so severe that they often had difficulty functioning. Then during the pandemic, more than 65% of students reported feeling anxious and depressed – worried that relatives would contract the variant, the financial problems associated with it and how this stress, in addition to worrying about studying, would have an impact on their mental health.

It is important for parents, educators, and students themselves to know that for new students and those with underlying and undiagnosed mental health issues, help is available during the crisis.

There are two major mental health problems that are commonly diagnosed when a person is in their late teens or twenties: borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia. Both are often triggered when a major life incident occurs at this age. Often times, undiagnosed mental health issues become evident when people in this age group are under significant stress.

Statewide, including Oakland County, attention is focused on vaccinating students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 47.3% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, increasing fears for some of being infected on campus. At the time of going to press, 56.5% of Oakland County residents aged 16 to 29 have received their first dose.

Over the past 18 months, students have been forced into a blended learning environment or a fully digital educational experience. As college and university leaders have reopened in-person learning, many students will be immersed in campus life. Students enter college with heightened concern: worries about the coronavirus infecting them or their families, pressure to be in social and face-to-face contact with others after being safely isolated at home for so long.

It is essential for young people as well as parents and educators to learn to recognize the warning signs of a mental health crisis: sleep problems, hopeless prospects, fatigue, feelings of panic or dread, difficulty in focusing or focusing too much on something worrying. , changes in appetite or weight, irritability, difficulty getting along with others, hearing voices, mood swings (high and low), suicidal thoughts and self-harm all require attention.

It is important for young adults to know how to navigate their universities if they or their roommates / friends are feeling triggered by anxiety, depression or other issues. It is also crucial that loved ones stay on the line to monitor students for any stress they may be having – and help them receive professional services if needed. The good news is that cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, medication, and social skills training are key components in helping students thrive. In particular, the earlier an individual is diagnosed and treated, the higher their level of success.

On the positive side too, today’s youth are more likely to seek help and discuss their issues with campus mental health advisers more than any generation before them.

Workshops, peer support, and crisis services are available at most universities, but this is only the start of treatment. It is crucial that a student in crisis is diagnosed so that he can receive the medical care he needs.

University life should be one of the best times in a young person’s life, but the transition away from home is not always easy. With proper planning and a good understanding of the resources available to protect their mental health, this can still be the time of their lives.

Veronica Smith is the Professional Outreach Director for the Rose Hill Center in Holly.

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