Life in a pressure cooker: The college years

College students are under a lot of pressure.

Many juggle academics, sports, relationships, clubs, work, family, and other obligations. As the cost of education continues to rise, many are working longer hours and taking on more loans.

For most, it’s the first time without parents and a regular support system. There are overwhelming hurdles and seemingly no one to help.  Some students see college as a make or break time, where failure is unacceptable or impossible. This is an incredibly harmful mindset.

During your college career, you may find that some of the best lessons you learned come from the biggest mistakes you made. Failure is not the end; it’s just the first step to figuring out what doesn’t work.

However, there are still too many that think failing or messing up will ruin their futures, and this view is taking a toll on students.

College students are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, stress, and suicide. It is during college-years that many first experience symptoms of depression. A survey by the American College Health Association found that 30 percent of college students felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function.”

In 2012, the leading cause of death of college students was accidents (including overdoses and drinking and driving). The second leading cause of death was suicide. Often, these causes are linked with depression and anxiety.

Starting the new school term is stressful. There are always going to be pressures. However, students do not have to handle the stress alone.

One of the benefits of college is having a community of peers to befriend.

For resident students it is easier; there are roommates, hallmates, RAs, and RDs around you nearly 24/7. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them with your concerns. It is likely they are going or have gone through similar experiences.

For commuter students not surrounded by this network (and for residents as well), it can be beneficial join an organization that speaks to you. There are cultural groups, religious groups, hobby groups, major liaisons, and even a group especially for commuters. Though adding additional commitments seems like it would only add to your stress, the network of close friends you will make is irreplaceable.

Additionally, the Simmons Counseling Center is available to provide free care for students. Located on the third floor of Palace Road Building (P305), the Counseling Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday to provide mental health services. After hours, students can contact Public Safety for assistance.

College is supposed to be a time to learn, grow, and create new experiences. Stress and depression are difficult things to handle. You do not have to be perfect on every assignment. It is okay to miss the occasional practice or meeting. Take sick days, not just for your physical health, but also for your mental health.

And remember, you don’t have to handle your problems alone.