Stress overwhelms and isolates students

In your last year of college, one of the words you hear most frequently is “senioritis,” that deep, dark hole of procrastination that threatens to swallow every student who is unlucky enough to stop, take a breath and think for a moment when they are within sight of graduation.

However, what you don’t hear thrown about are more serious words, like low self-confidence, depression, anxiety or panic attacks.

If you really think about it, the fact it isn’t talked about probably makes the situation worse.

Students who may deal with these conditions may believe they are alone, though common sense would dictate the opposite.

But, things like common sense don’t necessarily factor in when you have to focus on breathing normally or not sleeping through the day to avoid real life.

All students, not just seniors, need to be told it is not necessarily “bad” to feel overwhelmed.

It’s okay to want to get help, it’s okay to talk to someone and it is beyond okay to ask for advice or seek prescribed aid.

For some unknown reason, mental illness, whether inherited or situational, has a horrible stigma attached to it, for no good reason. If you would fix a broken leg, why can’t you fix a mental or emotional state that will cause just as much, if not more, damage than any physical ailment?

The pressure society puts on students, or that we put on ourselves, is enough to cause severe panic attacks, feelings of low self-worth or extreme anxiety.

The world we live in is quick to create the problems but slow to correct them.

This negative connotation surrounding therapy or medicine to help people suffering from treatable mental illnesses needs to stop.

According to the National Institution of Mental Health, in 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death of people ages 15 to 24, only following accident and homicide.

The worst part is, how many of these could have been prevented by therapy or even just by knowing that they are not alone in suffering from these afflictions?

The main problem is that therapy is considered a weakness, rather than a strength.

In truth, it takes courage to acknowledge something like depression or anxiety is more than you can handle and you want some aid with it. There is nothing weak about it.

The other problem is therapy costs so much, many who desperately need it probably can’t even come close to affording it. Many sessions cost over 100 dollars an hour.

100 dollars. For 60 minutes.

It should never cost that much to get help someone really needs. Some insurances won’t even cover the costs of therapy, though they would for an emergency room visit.

Someday, this may not be true. Someday, college students may be told it is okay to panic because you don’t know how your life is going to turn out and you can’t completely handle the pressure of figuring everything out at 22 years old.

Many factors can compound, especially at this time of year, especially approaching graduation if you are a senior, to create an environment where these feelings or struggles can come to the surface.

As someone who suffers from a few illnesses from the list, here is my plea. Get help, talk to someone or at least please realize you aren’t ever alone in this.

No matter what society says.

#heatherthompson #HeatherThompsoncolumn #mentalhealth

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