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The deal with first year college students and Mental Health.

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of Owings Mills Reisterstown Patch management or staff.

College life can be overwhelming for students, especially for first-year students. With this being my first year, I have experienced these struggles. Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common. Being a first-year college student is also a big step in a young person’s life, especially if you are far from home. This can increase anxiety levels, stress and even cause depression. However, there are ways to overcome these mental health challenges. Let’s talk about what first-year students can do if they find themselves struggling with mental health.

What is mental health?

Let’s first talk about what mental health is exactly. Mental health relates to a person's emotional, physical, and social well-being. These factors can greatly affect first-year students. I personally know how challenging it can be to have more freedom, to be away from home, and to have more responsibility. Most first-year students have not experienced these types of struggles.

What are the most common mental health disorders?

Mental health issues can affect a person’s overall well-being. Let's look at the main mental health disorders that most first-year students experience. These mental health disorders are depression, anxiety, and stress. Depression is the feeling of sadness or getting in a low mood. Anxiety is an alert in your body that causes you to have second thoughts, feel worried, or even full-on panic attacks which could lead to stress. Stress is the feeling of mental strain or tension from adverse or demanding circumstances. These three mental health disorders are the main reason why first-year students tend to struggle throughout the year. This can lead to students dropping out, failing, academic probation, or even experiencing suicidal thoughts.

In what ways can college students improve their mental health?

In the previous paragraph, I gave examples of what might cause first-year students to go through mental health disorders. Let's talk about what students can do to improve their mental health.

Breathing

The first step is to breathe. Students at any level of education can have a million things wrapped around their minds. This can include dealing with school and other life situations. The one thing that students fail to realize is that breathing helps the body calm down and go into reset mode. This can help first-year college students prepare for a big presentation, tests, and organize themselves. Breathing helps me to calm down and focus.

Speaking up

The second thing they can do is to talk to someone. This is one of the hardest things for me to do myself. First year students should talk to someone they trust. It can be a family member, friend, counselor, professor, teacher, etc. Talking to someone can relieve a lot of stress.

Journal/Write down thoughts.

Journaling is another option that first-year students can use to deal with stress. Writing down your thoughts can be very helpful. First-year students may feel insecure about their thoughts. Journaling has helped me as I navigate towards adulthood. Journaling is a great resource for understanding your health and thoughts.

Exercise

Exercise can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. Exercise helps me to relieve stress and improve my focus. Many first-year students are a part of various sports teams and clubs. Physical activity can alleviate stress and improve mental well-being. There are other ways for other students to exercise on campus without being in a sports program. Running, walking around on campus, going to a nearby gym, and yoga are great ways to exercise.

In conclusion, mental health can be an issue for first-year students. Stress, anxiety, and depression are contributing factors to mental health issues. Talking, breathing, creating a journal and exercising are all great ways to deal with mental health issues. I have practiced these strategies and found them to be extremely helpful. Although the perception of mental health has improved over the years, students should continue to use the above strategies.

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