Dealing with Mental Health in College

October 8th was dubbed Mental Awareness week at the Mona Law Society which was a great introduction to Youth Month in November where the Focus is on Mental Wellness here in Jamaica. The main focus was to highlight mental health issues faced by students which sparked conversations about this topic which is often neglected or regarded as taboo.

As college students, we are placed under a lot of pressure which have negative effects on our mental health. The types of pressure typically faced by University students are: academic, social and financial.

Academic pressure includes meeting deadlines for assignments, the pressure to ace exams and maintaining an excellent GPA. Social Pressure can be failing to meet your parents’ expectations in school, peer pressure to go partying or even within an intimate relationship to have sex. Financial pressure is the constant worry as it relates to paying tuition fees, living expenses and also finding money for leisure activities. Consider the sheer weight of these problems on the mind of a young adult, still finding his or herself as an individual. It is enough to cause many to crack or undergo mental or nervous breakdowns.

In most cases, we are not socialized positive methods to deal with the issues that we encounter in college. Instead, we face our problems alone and with a naivety that often exacerbates situations thus inducing even more stress.

A great way to prevent academic pressure on our mental health is by being organized. Creating a study timetable which you follow religiously can significantly aid in exam preparations. It decreases the study load closer to the exam date so you won’t be swamped with an excessive amount of material to cover in a short period of time.

 A hobby can be a great source of relaxation which can put your mind at ease and be an escape from problems. Some examples are playing a sport, reading, playing video games, creating art etc. 

We should never allow our mental health to deteriorate to a point where we become unable to function. I know of several cases where persons suffering from depression, stress, anxiety etc have stopped attending classes and stayed at home because they feel overwhelmed or simply cannot cope. Staying away from school is not a solution to the problem, it only makes the situation worse.

One of the best and most effective ways to remedy an overwhelming mental strain is to speak about the problem with a professional counselor. This is especially true when the source of your frustration is one which you do not wish to communicate to persons close to you as they may be a part of the problem. There is a misconception in our society that one only needs to visit a mental health specialist if they are “mad” to use the local parlance but that is far from the truth. A professional counselor can aid you in addressing the root of your problems and preventing them from escalating and further damaging you. The popular saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ springs to mind. Having had the experience of visiting the UWI Health Centre to meet with one of the counselors I can attest to their helpfulness.

In concluding I think we must acknowledge that mental health is a serious issue which many college students fail to address and we should ensure that we do not neglect it to our detriment.

Written By: Payton Patterson | All Rights Reserved

Payton Patterson is a 3rd-year student in the Faculty of Law at UWI Mona. I am twenty-one years of age, a graduate of Wolmer's Boys’ School. My hobbies include reading, watching football, listening to music and writing. My favorite football teams are Real Madrid and West Ham United. My ambition is to become a sports agent.

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