Birds are chirping from a large pine tree as the sun steams the air outside Anne’s window. She listens to students chatting during a volleyball game on the lawn in a kind of joyous symphony. But this isn’t a happy spring day for Anne.
Negative thoughts in her head rise and fall like a tidal wave. She can’t escape an ever-present darkness that seeps into her mind, never giving her a moment of rest.
Close to 60 percent of college students, Anne suffers from debilitating anxiety and depression. “It all became too much,” she says. “I had to take the rest of the term off, because the anxiety and the depression became too much. I had trouble sleeping. I had trouble eating. I was isolating myself from those I cared about. The constant thoughts that I was worthless and that I’d be better off dead were the only thoughts that seemed to fill my head.”
The depression and anxiety impacted her grades and her academic performance, and she ended up taking a medical withdrawal.
But Anne isn’t alone in the battle against depression and anxiety. Mental health issues in college students have been rising for the last 10 years, and mental health problems have led to an increase in students dropping from college campuses all over the country.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reports that 64 percent of those no longer attending college stated they had left due to mental health related reasons.
Anne was one of those statistics. “It was one of the hardest moments of my life. I felt that I had to choose between schooling and my mental health, sacrificing one for the other, and I ended up walking away from something I had once enjoyed because it was destroying me,” Anne said.
NAMI also reports that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 have been diagnosed with mental illness. Of college students, 11 percent have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety and 10 percent for depression.
The American Psychological Association and Center for Collegiate Mental Health recently surveyed clinicians counseling college students who reported they had concerns about anxiety in 62.2 percent of their patients. They also had a concern about depression in 49.7 percent of patients.
Fifty percent of college students have faced overwhelming anxiety and 49.5 percent have struggled with overwhelming depression that has made academic success difficult, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Of college students with mental health conditions, 73 percent have experienced a mental health crisis, and 34.2 percent report that their college never knew about it.
And as the rate of mental illness continues to rise, so does the risk of suicide with suicide now the third leading cause of death on college campuses, according to NAMI.
Mental health is something not everyone is discussing; 40 percent of college students with a diagnosable mental illness did not seek help, and stigma was named the number one cause of concern, according to NAMI.
Umpqua Community College has decided to be a part of the solution by opening a Wellness Center.
Located in the Education Skills Building, the Wellness Center offers counseling services for personal needs, crisis needs, and needs related to the Oct. 1, 2015 UCC school shooting. The Center also offers Recovery/Specialty Academic Advising, ways to deal with test anxiety or other anxiety issues, weekly wellness workshops and referrals to campus and community resources.
The UCC Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday, 8a.m. to 5p.m. for drop-ins or contact them at 541-440-7900. Students can also learn more at https://www.umpqua.edu/wellness-center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. If you or someone you love is feeling hopeless or contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.