Many aspects of late teens and early twenties life revolve around academic success while also finding a good job to achieve a more independent lifestyle.  

As life gets busy and these expectations arise, conversations surrounding mental health may often take a backseat and are not considered to be a top priority.

Being in a university setting can make this time more enjoyable, but it also introduces additional priorities like making friends and improving social status.

This raises the question of whether universities provide enough resources to aid students in navigating these responsibilities. Could it be that the very nature of a college campus environment contributes to feelings of stress and anxiety?

Most campuses offer counseling resources to support students in the challenges they might be facing, but the stigma attached to seeking help may deter individuals from seeking support. 

The reasoning for this stigma surrounding mental health struggles is not entirely clear, but a main reason could be attributed to the perceived social consequences among students. The silence surrounding mental health often acknowledges it as a sign of weakness, when in reality, it should be seen as a sign of strength and courage. 

Many universities push their resources to ensure that students are prioritizing their mental health similar to school and social activities. Universities must continue to make this effort and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.   

Part of this prioritization should include emphasizing that experiencing phases of mental health challenges is a natural part of life. This realization can be reassuring for many college students as they recognize that many of their peers are encountering similar difficulties.

This aspect is important in discussions about mental health, but another crucial consideration is where these issues and perceptions stem from.

In terms of academics and career pursuits, there are lofty expectations to both balance and advance in both areas. The anxiety surrounding these responsibilities can intensify when we see our peers outperforming us in a specific area.  

One of the most toxic tendencies that affects not just college students, but all of us internally, is falling victim to the comparison game. When we witness others excelling in sports, job searches, or making connections, we begin to doubt our worth, furthering the interference of our mental health. In a way, we are our biggest bully. 

These concerns can be eased when we acknowledge the human nature of everyone engaging in some level of comparison.

These are the types of reassurances that should continue to be encouraged across college campuses as the chapter of adulthood comes with these increased expectations.  

It is important to remember that every college is different and some are definitely better than others at prioritizing mental health. However, all universities can utilize the same strategy: adjusting the perception associated with treating mental health and emphasizing its importance as much as academics and careers.

School and friendships can change over time, but our approach to how we treat our minds and maintain positive outlooks on life will surround us forever. While stress and anxiety can be unavoidable at times, help is always available for everyone. This understanding is vital as students navigate through their college journey and beyond.  

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