Prioritizing mental health

Take time out of the semester, spring break to unwind

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 3/1/17 11:21pm


College is by no means easy. In fact, it can be nearly impossible to balance classes, homework, exams and student organization obligations while maintaining an active social life, getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night and working a job (or two). These stressors can leave students feeling anxious, overwhelmed and frustrated. Many times, the stress of college can also result in serious mental health concerns for students.

Grand Valley State University, while striving to be a university that looks out for its own, simply can't keep tabs on every student. That's why it's so important for you to not only take care of yourself but to also recognize the signs that someone else might need help. There isn't a universal sign that someone is depressed, and there won't necessarily be a dead giveaway that someone is contemplating suicide. Even if you aren't sure, this is a situation where it's better to be safe than sorry. Let them know you are there as a support system or that GVSU offers a plethora of resources for them to talk to trained professionals about their feelings, no matter how small they might feel.

College is a difficult time, but it should never be too much to handle. For many students, college is the first independent experience they have. We're told time and time again to do things on our own and how to do them, but with so much on your plate, it can be hard to know when to reach out for help.

Research done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that one in every four students has a diagnosable mental illness, and an alarming 40 percent do not seek help. Though it's easier said than done, try not to get bogged down by social stigmas. Seek help if you're feeling depressed or suicidal. The University Counseling Center on campus is equipped with qualified staff and offers free and confidential counseling services. You should never be embarrassed to get help if you need it.

While it's important to try hard in your classes and be diligent about doing your homework, preparing for tests and writing essays, it's important not to get bogged down in work to the point of being overly stressed, depressed, anxious or suicidal. Make time for light reading, for Netflix, for singing in the shower, for petting a puppy, for working out. Your body and mind will thank you. So take some time this break to recharge and regroup. Whether this means sleeping in an extra hour or reading a book for fun, make sure that you make the time. 

Sure, homework and studying for exams are important, but they're no more important than your mental health. College is temporary. Your mental health is not. 

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