Stress is like a leech––it plagues college students and eats many alive. Even optimists can’t escape at least a couple negative effects. Unmanaged stress can lead to severe health problems, including mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Although some students may have developed a mental illness early-on in life, stress can also make it worse.
It’s one thing to admit you struggle with a mental illness, but it’s an entirely different thing to willingly seek help and know where to find it. Most college campuses provide resources for their students, but many aren’t aware of them because they’re either hard to find or students become too prideful to look for them.
According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 62 percent of students with mental health problems withdrew from college due to their illness. I almost became one of those people when panic attacks overtook my life this past semester and went to the emergency room two different times because I could barely breathe. I literally thought I was going crazy and school was too much to handle at the time. Although I took advantage of some resources, such as counseling, I didn’t fully exhaust the resources I had around me and wish I would have learned more about the mental illness (panic disorder) I struggle with.
There’s many different mental illnesses––anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, and dementia. Subcategories exist within these major categories (at least five major anxiety disorders and nine types of depression, for example).
- Support groups or clubs that deal with mental illnesses
- Other peers who struggle with mental illnesses
- Talking with friends
- Academic accommodations (extra time for test-taking, etc;) through your school’s disability resource center
- Pastoral care (at Christian Colleges), church pastors and counselors near campus,
- On-campus therapists, your school’s (or a nearby campus’) counseling center, student health center
- Your school’s list of community resources (see this example from Biola University)
- Resident advisors and directors
Academic anxiety resources:
- -Oregon State University blog–– strategies for managing test anxiety
- Learn Psychology–– stress quiz, signs and symptoms of chronic stress, resources for dealing with stress (relaxation techniques, stress don’ts, ways to avoid stress, etc;), types of good and bad stress, generic information about anxiety, how stress relates to anxiety, list of common stressors.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America––list of test anxiety resources
- Best Colleges–– student’s guide to managing stress
- Anxiety Resource Center
- National Alliance for Mental Illness––video on the warning signs of a mental health condition, blogs, fact sheets, treatment plans, crisis hotline, online support boards.
- Active Minds–– student and family resources, locator for student Active Minds chapters
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America–– list of resources for suicide, depression, eating disorders, OCD, and anxiety. Information for specific mental illnesses within anxiety and depression.
- National Eating Disorders Association–– information about eating disorders and list of other related resources
- Talkspace and BetterHelp––online chat with a therapist
- Walden Center–– facts on different types of eating disorders, All About Prevention blog, books about various eating disorders, research
- Best Colleges– articles about social issues, eating disorders, suicide prevention, and more
- American Psychiatric Association–– Coping With Stress and Anxiety on Campus blog post, information on psychiatric disorders.
- Ok2Talk––blog posts from others struggling with mental illnesses
- Mentalhealth.gov––symptoms of various mental illnesses, mental health myths and facts, information about recovery, testimonials.
- Context–– a College Student’s Guide to OCD
- ULifeline–– mental health resources for college students
- Psychotherapy and counseling videos
- Sidran.org–– PTSD brochures, other resources
- National Center for PTSD
- Everyday Health–– list of PTSD resources
- Helpguide.org––Bipolar Disorder self-management tips
- Suicide prevention lifeline
- 24 hour mental health hotline
- It’s “Just” Anxiety
- YouTube–– anxiety management, depression management, testimonials from people who struggled with eating disorders, Khan Academy categories of mental disorders, suicide prevention
- Mental Health Ted Talk–– complete list here.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness videos
- Article from NPR: How Youtube Videos Help People Cope with a Mental Illness
- Survivor Day Documentaries (suicide prevention)
- Depression documentaries
- Eating Disorder documentaries
- OCD: The War Inside documentary
- List of best mental health documentaries
- Bipolar disorder documentaries
- PTSD documentary
Books (found on Amazon.com):
A note on finding local resources:
- Google therapy near me, eating disorder association near me/ (insert city name here), psychiatrist near me, etc;.
- Google (insert name of mental illness) resources
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of resources, but my goal is that it will provide a starting point for you to find resources, understand more about the condition you face, and find stories of people who have faced similar struggles.