I have many friends on this campus who talk about how March is the hardest month at Bates, and rightly so. Coming back from February recess, it is a non-stop effort to get to short term and the warmth of April. March is a month of long nights in the library, late hours at practice, and spending much more time dealing with the general pressure of college. It has been hard to experience but it is even harder to talk about. For many people, mental health is a problem that takes a lot of courage and inner strength to talk about. It is a nuanced and complicated issue that requires those who are affected time and space to deal with personal affairs. For me, anxiety and pressure come at a sacrifice of many things and have resulted in acute emotional trauma. For many others who suffer from mental health problems, I cannot even imagine the pain that you are going through right now. But I truly believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
There are so many misconceptions about mental health. The amount of times I have heard people say, “Suck it up” or “Get over it” is appalling to me. Mental health on college campuses, especially Bates, is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously and have more support. According to Mental Health America, there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, the forms of which range from social withdrawal to persistent nightmares. The range of mental health disorders are startling, and they cannot help but shine a light on the issue of the lack of attention we pay to people’s emotional traumas. Especially when it comes to college students, studies show that young adults continuously suffer from mental health issues.
“Nobody said college was going to be easy” is an old saying that speaks volumes as to just how an intense academic environment can impact a student’s mind. According to the Mental Health Guide for College Students, approximately 80% of college students claim that they suffer from some type of stress or anxiety. Additionally, 13% of students have claimed that they experience some sort of depression and/or have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Statistics, however, cannot be substitutes to people’s experiences dealing with anxiety and depression. These illnesses can be neither unilaterally defined nor categorized in a study; these are emotional realities.
As someone who suffers from stress and anxiety, I am proud to say that I am comfortable talking with others amount my emotions. It is important that Bates students, faculty, and staff work together, as a community, to support those who are suffering from mental health conditions. While we are fortunate to have on-campus resources like CAPS to help those with mental health concerns, it is still not enough to provide a long-lasting impact. Bates, along with all colleges in the United States, need to do better when addressing mental illness. Too many young adults suffer from anxiety and depression on a daily basis and do not have the people or the resources to support themselves. Good mental health is not just something that spontaneously occurs. It is a process that gradually happens over a period of time, and it is a process that we as a community must address more seriously if we going to help those in need.