After class the other day I really got to thinking about Colby as an environment for cultivating mental health. Since coming back on campus from being abroad I have been questioning just how healthy of an environment college actually is. Every day we contend with numerous social and academic pressures. Will you wear the right outfit? Did you get an A on your midterm? What do your friends think of you? When will you right that paper? When weighing the pros and cons of college does the education we receive outweigh the negative environment? My question going into this topic was if all of these pressures make people more venerable to mental illnesses.
I found a story on NPR that a heard last fall about the issue of mental illnesses on college campuses. There has been a recent rise in the number of people seeking guidance for mental illnesses on college campuses across the nation. This “mental illness epidemic” has people questioning the environment of college campuses and considering why there seems to be a rise in mental illnesses in our generation. The story on NPR states that they do not think it is something with our generation, rather it is a product of better diagnosis and medications that allow students, who’s disabilities might have once restricted them, to continue their education. Nonetheless, I do not feel like the environment on campuses is conducive to healthy living. This NPR story also discusses how Stanford University is trying to make a healthier environment on campus for people suffering from mental illnesses. Their solution was creative; they collected personal stories from people around campus and turned it into a performance. They performed these dialogs around campus to raise awareness and open discussion. What they did was very important. They brought to light something that before had not been discussed. A lot of these monologues are very powerful and I recommend listening to them.
I also found an interesting book called College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It. I included a review below:
From Publishers Weekly
Kadison, chief of mental health services at Harvard, and DiGeronimo (How to Talk to Your Kids About Really Important Things) are deeply concerned about the marked growth in serious mental health problems on campus: they note statistics showing that almost half of all students will become seriously depressed during their college career and may engage repeatedly in binge drinking. One in 10 undergraduates, they say, will seriously consider suicide. And the crisis is augmented, say the authors, by the cutbacks in mental health programs at many colleges due to budgetary considerations. Kadison and DiGeronimo do a commendable job of outlining the many stresses students face, such as academic pressure, financial problems, feelings of social inadequacy and, for women, a fear of sexual assault. In a stark chapter, the authors outline the self-destructive coping mechanisms adopted by those with emotional problems, including eating disorders, drug abuse, cutting and suicide attempts. Parents will find sensible suggestions for helping their children deal with college life. Most important, say the authors, is keeping the lines of communication open by listening to children without judgment or criticism. Parents, college counselors and administrators, and students themselves (to whom the last chapter is addressed) will find helpful, if sometimes disturbing, information here.
What do you think? Does it sound like a good way to sell books to parent that are struggling to let go of their children? Also in a time when finances are tight should the health center really be the place to be making cuts?
Link to book: