By Moriah Comarcho-Mikhail
Thanks to a new statewide law, New York has officially become the first state to introduce required mental health classes in all New York schools from grades K–12. Starting this fall, students will explore a curriculum that includes notifying mental health red flags, finding access to help resources and the stigma surrounding mental illness issues, according to an article in the Daily Mail.
There is no denying that as college students, we all would have benefited infinitely from a class like this. Because besides the usual annual “sex talk,” many of us got essentially nothing out of our high school health classes.
And now we’re all in college, struggling. We’re failing approximately eight out of the five classes we’re in and a lot of us need a little extra help. So why isn’t mental health really talked about on college campuses?
We see a campus full of bright, healthy, young bodies, and yet lurking beneath the surface is the thing no one is talking about. Here at BU, behavioral medicine clinicians report that the number of students coming in for help in crisis situations has increased from 647 in 2014–2015 to 906 last year.
And the number of students needing medical transports for psychiatric evaluation has also increased. According to the Healthy Minds Study, “We found that on college campuses where there is higher stigma toward mental health treatment, there is less treatment-seeking behavior among students.”
Many students do not know their school offers counseling, and those who are aware are hesitant to use it to their advantage because of the stigma.
More than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is why college is such a critical time. So, we see that the need for mental health treatment is on the rise, and yet treatment-seeking behavior is not.
It may seem like an easier option to ignore the signs and not get help, but the long-term consequences are far worse. In fact, NAMI reported that 64 percent of young adults surveyed who dropped out of college are not attending college because of a mental health-related reason. So, if your logic for not getting treatment is that you’re putting your studies first, remember that mental health and academics go hand-in-hand.
And don’t forget: you’re not alone. Mental illness is very common among students today. According to mental health research conducted by NAMI:
- One in four young adults have a diagnosable mental health illness
- Forty percent of diagnosable students do not seek help
- Eighty percent of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
- More than half of college students have become so anxious that they struggle in school
If you are in need of help, please don’t wait for things to get worse. Reach out.