It’s repeated over and over that college is supposed to be the best time for young people. But there has been a post floating around social media recently, saying something along the lines of ‘being in college means that it’s just a matter of time before you have a mental breakdown’, and it’s completely correct.
We joke about these things plenty, the stress of college, but it seems that we fail to acknowledge the silent epidemic that is running rampant on campus. It’s one thing to support mental health month and put backpacks on the quad to represent the victims of suicide, but counseling services are often under-staffed, and difficult to get an appointment. And students hesitate to utilize these services, as they do not want to get parents or family involved. I can attest to this difficult decision; I waited until my depression was unbearable, until I sought out medication via the university nurse practitioner, because I hadn’t wanted my parents to know what was going on.
On my campus, it takes about a fifteen-minute consultation on the phone to just set up an appointment, which is already anxiety inducing for certain people, and sometimes we have to wait weeks for an opening. It’s become so awful that people have started going off campus to find help, and therapists and psychiatrists near my college are filled with students.
The anxiety of college goes without saying; the deadlines, the long papers, the all nighters, the breakdowns while studying for finals and we consider this completely normal. Once, during finals, I lost my sock in my room, and I simply started weeping from stress and exhaustion. We consider this normal, while campus totes a campus of mental health acceptance, but the stigma hangs heavy in the air. Talk about it, but don’t actually talk about it. Bring service dogs onto the campus, but underfund the counseling center in favor of expanding sports when it isn’t even necessary. And then act surprised when another student is reported dead from suicide.