Although the “older” generation may not be able to see it, could there really be a mental health crisis going on with millennials today?
I know what I am saying seems a little far fetched, but after three and a half years of college and dealing with some major mental health issues myself. This assumption doesn’t seem too crazy.
One thing I have noticed about my generation is that we are all over achievers. Going to school just as a part time student and working a full time job almost doesn’t seem to exist anymore since many scholarships are not available. Due to this, I have seen more and more students juggling a full load of class work on top of a part time job and some a full time job just to pay for the education they are receiving, but It doesn’t stop there. Not only are students working, but many are also involved in an array of extracurricular activities on top of classes.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24. The 2016 UCLA Higher Education Research Institute survey of freshmen even found that nearly 12 percent of freshman across the country say they are "frequently" depressed. So if mental health problems begin during the most critical times of our lives and 12 percent of just freshman across the country are dealing with it, why is it not being taken more seriously? Why are so many college students afraid to say they need help?
In an article on NBCNews.com, Judith Green, a counselor at Ramapo College, said she has seen everything from transition adjustment to more serious psychiatric disorders. According to her, being away from home for the first time, access to alcohol and drugs and the rigorous demands of academic life can all lead to anxiety and depression. This makes sense. I can agree with this.
Green also said millennials are more vulnerable to the stressors of college life, "This generation has grown up with instant access via the internet to everything,” she said. “This has led to challenges with frustration tolerance and delaying gratification." However, this is something I do not agree with at all. I feel like it has been so typical for our parents and beyond just to blame everything on technology. “Millennials are entitled brats” is the phrase I have heard most often. My own parents have even called me lazy multiple times because I decided to pick an “easy” major (I’m a communication major), therefor I was only going to school and paying all this money just to be a housewife because my major was most definitely never going to get me anywhere in life. Thanks Dad!
So no, I do not believe delaying gratification is causing this mental health crisis in college students today, I think it’s the extreme expectations and standards we are being held to unlike the generations before us. No longer is just getting an education good enough for a job, you have to already have a year’s worth of experience in the field you are majoring in through internships and be extremely involved in extracurricular activities on top of working to pay for your education just to get an entry level position. We are working our tails off and ruining our mental and physical health just to have a job after we graduate from college and be considered “successful” by the people who set the bar for us.
I have to clarify that I am not saying that things need to be easier for us. The hardships that I have faced throughout college has made me into a better person and has also shown me that I am much stronger than I ever thought I could be. What I am saying is that this taboo around talking about mental health issues needs to disappear. It took me three years to finally tell my parents that I had been struggling with depression because I was so scared and ashamed of myself for feeling that way. A student shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help and if you are struggling with a mental health issue right now, talk to a friend or a close professor. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, Spring Hill has counselors in the Wellness Center that will talk to you free of charge. There are many more options than just “taking a pill” if you don’t feel comfortable with that.
We also have to realize that each person’s situation is different, what works for one person may not work for another. So call out of work, skip that class, maybe even sleep in for a day to give yourself the physical and mental rest you need, but don’t ever let your mental health issue control you or keep you from doing the things you love. You are so much stronger than you think you are and you WILL make it through.