Opinion

There’s a Lack of Conversation About Mental Health

Mental health disorders can leave those who are affected feeling alone and helpless. More university resources can help afflicted students.

The air is getting more crisp as the days go on. Slowly, leaves are falling one by one onto cars and the ‘L’ stop seems to be getting further away. Fall used to bring the promise of candy and jumping into piles of leaves. For many, it just feels like a reminder that they’re going to have to get through another winter.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the seasons, most commonly fall and winter. People suffering from SAD can be depressed and unmotivated for a prolonged period.

SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans and another 10 to 20 percent may suffer from mild SAD, according to Psychology Today. The average age of those affected is between 18 and 30, leaving young adults — especially those who are away from home — vulnerable to experience its effects.

College is full of firsts, including a new lifestyle, friends, roommates, experiences, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), this can make students susceptible to depression and anxiety.

There isn’t an avid discussion about mental disorders in universities, even though it’s important to inform students about its symptoms and how to treat them. This information can’t be glossed over with pamphlets and short seminars — there has to be an in-depth conversation with students about their mental health.

College can also be a time of loneliness for students who aren’t adjusting well to new people and environments. With the cold weather soon approaching, it can feel like living in a solitary environment. Many schools have resources for students who suffer from mental disorders.

Loyola’s Wellness Center provides students with a full-time psychiatrist and counselors to speak to. However, there’s a limit to the number of appointments a student can have until only being referred to other providers in the community, which can get expensive.

It’s important for people to take care of themselves and regularly monitor their emotions. If things don’t seem right, it’s important to vocalize it rather than pretend nothing is wrong.

Approximately 12 percent of college students suffer from an anxiety disorder and 7 to 9 percent suffer from depression, according to an article from The U.S. National Library of Medicine, which highlighted the prevalence of mental disorders in college students.

These are large percentages of students who are afflicted by mental disorders and that’s why it’s important to understand what the signs of mental disorders are. Loss of appetite, weight loss, agitation and fatigue are some signs of depression but there can be different experiences with different disorders. It isn’t something “every college kid goes through.” These disorders can be serious and may lead to permanent physical or mental damage.

Being prepared for college is something Loyola is adamant in teaching through intro classes and seminars including UNIV 101, which prepares students for college. Preparing students to handle the mental strain and anxiety that accompanies these four years should be an active conversation within the class. Loyola can promote these conversations with professional seminars for students to attend, giving mental health the attention it deserves.

The ADAA website provides a list of resources and suggestions for students who believe they are feeling depressed or anxious. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 800-273-TALK — can give students advice and someone to talk to about their feelings. The hotline isn’t just a crisis line and can be called any time. 

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