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The mental health of college students has become a hot-button topic in the recent years as more students each year report cases of poor mental health.
According to a study done by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 44% of college students report having symptoms of either depression or anxiety. The United States Department of Health & Human Services reported that 11% of students reported that they had attempted suicide on or more times before.
College campuses, like the Arizona State University downtown Phoenix campus, have seen a surge in students seeking help in dealing with their own personal cases. Flora Alvarado works at the Taylor Place residential hall as a community director. In her role, Alvarado frequently assists the residents of the dorm when they are in crisis mode, as she explained.
“I think it stems from the transition of high school to college,” said Alvarado. “A lot of students are first generation and don’t have a guide with them through college.”
NAMI explained that over 75% of students who experience dealing with anxiety or depression do not seek help for their mental health issues. Alvarado explained that she usually deals with students when they are already in crisis mode. She said that she is sort of the last line of defense when counseling on campus is closed for the day.
“Unfortunately, I would say that in my job I see students when they are at their most difficult times,” said Alvarado. “I think talking things through with students and letting them talk about their stressors helps them understand what they need from the university to be successful.”
NAMI reported that 30% of students that deal with poor mental health linked it to school and the work load. Morgan Wolfgang is a senior at the College of Health Solutions majoring in health sciences. Wolfgang is now moving on to a genetic counseling graduate program. She said that her mental health has sometimes made school difficult for her along the way.
“My mental health is definitely dependent on my school life and workload. I feel accomplished when I get good grades or get assignments done early, and I feel happier and content,” said Wolfgang. “But when I’m overwhelmed or don’t receive grades that match my effort, I question myself constantly. I see my depression spike.”
Ernie Hernandez is a residential college student leader for the Watts College at Taylor Place, in his three years in this position he has dealt with many students that are dealing with poor mental health. Hernandez is often the first point of contact for these residents, they reach out to him in their times of need.
“My students deal with sadness and anxiety on a daily basis. I would either get a call, a text, or sometimes a quick nonverbal to know that things are not the norm,” said Hernandez.
Poor mental health amongst college students has become more prevalent in the past few years, as more students are coming forward and seeking the help they need.