What do we know about the mental health and well-being of postgraduate students? What do we perceive to be correct about our young “future incumbents”?
We know that postgraduates are truly amazing, resilient, empathetic and intelligent, but also human.
To err is human, so as we reflect on our own younger years, let’s share the learning.
Getting into higher education is synonymous with the biggest changes in the personality, psychopathology and personal development of a young adult.
Yes, they are eager to explore; yes, they are delighted to be away from home and make new friendships forever; and, yes, a significant percentage will also need support to explore their mental health well-being.
Young adults face a myriad of exciting life choices, but also a host of fears and anxieties, some stemming from the immense novelty of the transition to singularly responsible adulthood; that is to say, university life and independent life.
Students have pre-existing mental health issues, often unwilling to discuss them with a family doctor, relative or friend.
Students present themselves when they begin to realize that having five bad days out of seven each week, compared to their peers, requires intervention.
Students, as a percentage of our newly adult population, will develop mental illness because of age of onset research showing that four major disorders typically begin in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Those disorders that correlate with many campus statistics are anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction.
Mental health issues affect many areas of students’ lives, reducing their quality of life, academic performance, physical health, and satisfaction with the college experience, while also negatively impacting students. relationships with friends and family members.
On campus, you can be who you are, you can blend in with your spirit, or you can stand out, you can seek support, or you can go it alone (but we’d rather you didn’t).
Students want to be heard, validated and treated with respect and confidence.
As a campus mental health counselor, my advice to students is to always come and chat with me, 15 minutes won’t hurt you, but it might help.
Poor physical health is not often avoided or brought up in whispered corners. What an encouraging day for all of us, when mental illness can experience the same societal understanding, creating conversations in college with young, open, and unfettered minds in a way that we believe helps to mark. a change.
Campus student mental health policies must be co-produced, with the needs, wants and experiences of students influencing our support services.
Talking about and exploring mental health as a concept across communities has seen many positive movements, and those who should stand up for the strongest as our next generation, must be our third level young adults.
Thus, we owe them both a positive mental health experience and defined resources for recovery or stabilization.
Building mental health recovery resources on campus is the “Recovery Olympics” that every campus must participate in – and every student must be a winning recipient.
This means offering the services that students tell us work for them, such as peer support, counseling, debriefing space, relaxation and discussion sessions, mental health wellness workshops, suicide prevention and interventions, general practitioners and nursing clinics, mental health assessments and referrals. beyond that, spiritual counseling, clinics and counseling on sexuality, accommodation and budget support.
I tell students that for every day that you leave your mental health issue unnamed, you lose another day through worry and anger, sadness, fear and isolation; and these days you can’t recover.
For parents and students: before entering university, sit down together and discuss the changes that are coming; the good, the bad and the downright scary. Developing resilience, taking responsibility, valuing and loving yourself, owning your mistakes, living with others, managing stress and cooking an egg are all life skills you should have before you enroll as an adult. and at university.
So if you are a prospective third level student, or an existing third level student, know that you are never alone. There’s a whole campus of support behind you – just open your first introduction to support and don’t be a statistic.
The Maynooth University campus message on mental health is quite simple: “Work with us, your recovery matters.
Sandra Fox is a mental health counselor at Maynooth University