October is coming to an end, and for most of you, that means looking forward to Halloween, to Thanksgiving break, and to giving up the last five-dollar bill in your wallet to a pumpkin spice latte. But for me, the end of October signifies deadlines, interviews, midterms upon midterms and general anxiety. Oh, and iced coffee. Lots and lots of iced coffee. (Surprisingly, I am not a believer of pumpkin spice).
With “Halloweekend” around the corner, everyone is shopping for witch hats and gorilla masks, but if I want a scare, all I have to do is open my Google Calendar. While I would love to just relax, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch Halloweentown for the umpteenth time, I am instead knee-deep in textbooks and study guides, trying to juggle finishing homework while practicing interview skills, all while working part-time, conducting research, and taking a 20 credit course-load. And personally, no matter how many tasks I check off in my planner or how many events on my Google Calendar are marked as completed, I seem to have somehow created a black hole of never-ending assignments and obligations.
Just like me, so many of you find yourselves balancing a hectic schedule almost every day of your week, and when midterms roll around, it seems almost impossible to get everything done. And that’s when the danger begins: lack of sleep, caffeine pills, trying to find shortcuts, and lying in a pool of your own anxieties and worries. So now, more than ever, it is vital to stress the importance of mental health.
This bar graph (pictured above), pulled from College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Health, a study conducted by Dana Crudo through the National Alliance on Mental Health shows the percentage of students/recent graduates who have suffered from some sort of mental illness while in school. The following statistic (pictured below) from USA TODAY illustrates a staggering percentage of college students who have felt common indicators of depression.
Research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on college campuses further shows that:
- 25% of students have a diagnosable illness
- 40% do not seek help
- 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
- 50% have been so anxious they struggled in school
But this post isn’t about numbers or statistics; it is about learning of and using the endless resources available to you. Even if you do not suffer from depression or any other mental illness, but simply just feel overwhelmed, whether it be today, next week, or for a month sometime in the future, it is good to know what’s out there for you.
From personal experience, when I am completely overwhelmed, I do the absolute opposite of what I should be doing. Rather than starting at the same paragraph of a textbook for the 30th time, I get up, put a bookmark my spot in my textbook, and go put on an episode of Friends, play a quick game on my phone, or go bother my little brother. Sometimes, it’s best to get a little distracted and let yourself breathe for a few minutes. One time, I had the worst writer’s block. I was in my dorm, all my friends were gone for the weekend, and essentially, I had nothing distracting me nor were there any other assignments getting in the way of writing my paper – I just couldn’t do it. So, I cried. Then, after realizing my tears were not magical water droplets that would write a 10 page research paper for me, I left my dorm and walked to Starbucks. While coffee didn’t write my paper for me either, just that 45 minute change in my environment allowed me to focus and restrategize when I got back. And sometimes, looking at your work from a different perspective is exactly what you need.
Another resource I highly recommend is the Quiet Place Project; it sounds like exactly what it is. Here’s the link: http://thequietplaceproject.com/thequietplace
It’s also useful to know what resources are available on campus for you. Many of you might not feel comfortable sharing your worries with your friends or families, and in that case, just know that there are plenty of confidential services offered right outside your dorm or just a bus ride away.
- CAPS (Rutgers’s Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services) offers a free online screening for Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Eating Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for students. It is completely anonymous.
- CAPS offers a variety of information on topics from ADHD to relaxation exercises that can be accessed here. But if you wish to make an appointment or just speak to a staff member, they can be reached at 848-932-7884.
- Scarlet Listeners is an excellent free & confidential student-run referral hotline for both the Rutgers community, and surrounding New Brunswick community as well. If you need to rant or listen to some words of encouragement or just need to get something off your mind, call them at 732-247-5555.
- 24-hour emergency hotline (available after 5:00 pm and on weekends) at 732-235-5700
And some other useful websites and phone numbers, just so you know everything that is available to you are as follows:
- For basic information: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or Live Online Chat
- Locate mental health services in your area: 1-877-726-4727
- ULifeline – a confidential, online resource center designed for college students: http://www.ulifeline.org/
- Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
Remember, there is nothing you have to face alone. You have an endless support system of friends, family members, and even your dog. And when none of those seem available to you, do not be afraid to reach out to any of the resources listed above. You do not have to compromise your sleep or your health for your schoolwork; and you absolutely shouldn’t. You are a trooper, you can do this, and when in doubt, reference Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation.