Mental health in college students is a growing area of attention for schools everywhere, especially during the past several years. In fact, one study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that more than 60 percent of college students met the criteria for one or more mental health problems between 2020 and 2021.

If you’re starting college, it’s important to put as much attention on mental health as on eating healthily and exercising regularly. Taking care of your mental health means recognizing your body’s warning signs and addressing them. Use this guide to discover how to overcome common mental stresses so you can succeed in your education and career goals.

Depression

Depression can be tricky to spot because you may likely feel blue or down at one point or another. When you start feeling low, evaluate how much it’s impacting your day-to-day life:

  • Are you sleeping or eating differently?
  • Are staying home more?
  • Are you no longer finding pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed?
  • Are you tired and lethargic more often?
  • Are you having trouble concentrating and engaging in your classes?

If the answer is yes to any of these, it might be time to reach out for help.

A great place to begin is Azusa Pacific University’s Counseling Center, which is available for in-person or online therapy sessions—free of charge. Counseling is ideal for every challenging situation you face in college because talking your problems and thoughts over with someone can help you find clarity and solutions. The Counseling Center can also help you determine if you need to change your school schedule or seek further care.

Anxiety

College can be stressful, especially in your first year, and a certain amount of anxiety is natural. But when it overwhelms you enough to impact your personal and academic lives, it may be time to seek support.

Start by considering the source of your anxiety. Are you taking too many classes? Do you need help understanding the material in a class? In these cases, the Academic Success Center can provide practical solutions to your stressors, such as tutors, writing assistance, and academic advising. If it’s something deeper, consider enrolling in APU’s free Anxiety Toolbox Workshop. This two-week workshop will teach you how to identify stressors in your life and create a plan to address them. The Counseling Center is a great resource, too.

Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep is essential to your health, mental included. It may be even more important in college as you’re often tasked with accomplishing a lot in little time. For your college-age brain to function optimally, it needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Without this amount of quality sleep, you could become more prone to depression, weight gain, stress, and irritability. That’s why it’s important to recognize common sleep disruptors, such as:

  • Too much screen time before bed
  • Caffeinated beverages after 2 p.m.
  • Too much artificial light, not enough sunlight
  • Heavy, greasy, or sugary food close to bedtime
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Not getting enough movement in the day
  • Stress of all types

You may be surprised at how a few adjustments in these areas—such as no screen time an hour before sleep—can improve your sleep quality. Some disruptors, however, may require additional support.

Support for Mental Health in College Students at APU

APU is committed to every student’s academic well-being, spiritual health, and mental health. Whatever you’re facing, don’t go through it alone. In fact, you aren’t alone at all.

Schedule a free talk with a counselor or connect with a group counseling session today. Many of the people you’ll meet there have successfully navigated these challenges and want to help. You may also find valuable assistance at the Student Health Center. You can see a provider for free regardless of whether you have health insurance.

Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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