College students face a number of physical and mental health challenges as they make the transition from high school to life on a college campus. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity exacerbate many of the most common problems that many new and returning college students experience. It is important to remember that as they acclimate to the freedom of living on their own and responsibilities of the academic workload there is support on your campus.
Despite strong evidence in research that links good nutrition and exercise with other healthy behaviors and choices, many college students either are unaware or ignore this information. Sufficient sleep, crucial to sustainable academic performance, is difficult to achieve without these healthy habits. Look into your campus gym and see if they offer classes or use their weight room.
As many as 80 percent of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities at college, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH). NAMH also reports that up to 50 percent have been so anxious that they struggle with their schoolwork.
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems on college campuses. This is a debilitating illness that affects biology, psychology, and social functioning which can make it difficult for the student to excel at campus life.
Depression often goes hand in hand with several other mental health problems such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and motivational problems. Yet, students often do not realize they suffer from these afflictions, and even when they do, they often do not know where to get help. In fact, according to NAMH, one in four college students have a diagnosable mental illness – yet 40 percent do not seek help even when their campus may offer health services.
One of the main results of substance and alcohol abuse is risky behaviors, drop in academic performance, injuries, STDs from risky sexual behavior, and dealing with hangovers. Alcohol use also can lead to depression, and depression can prompt more self-damaging behavior.
Most college campuses have centers and staff who can help students who face these challenges. We encourage students to seek out these services their campuses offer and to take advantage of them. Most colleges will hold an annual health fair for their students, this is also a great time to educate yourself on avaible campus resources.