When most people think of being healthy in their day to day lives, they focus on physical tasks like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. But a major facet of a healthy life gets overlooked far too often: mental health.
Counseling manager and psychologist Scott Kadera, Ph.D. says anxiety and stress are the most common issues that students struggle with at Salt Lake Community College. Students can face many stressors related to their families, relationships, academic or professional work; pressure can build from setting unrealistic expectations of perfection or just trying to juggle too many things at once.
Kadera recommends that students develop a self-awareness of their stress levels and stressors, and to ask themselves questions such as “Am I stressed right now?” and “What can I do to manage this stress?”
Kadera recommends that all students participate in self-care in order to keep stress levels down and help manage any other issues.
Self-care seems like an ambiguous statement to many, but some tangible things students can do include: deep breathing; managing exercise, diet, and sleep; participating in workshops, or individual counseling. Students can also be mindful of any negative thought patterns and seek to change those into positive thoughts.
When a person is feeling overwhelmed, little things may start to slip, such as cleaning, bathing, sleeping or eating regularly. But completing any task, no matter how big or small it may seem, is a good way to build motivation to get back in touch with friends and other interests.
The Center for Health and Counseling offers many workshops and group sessions to help students with common issues. Recent examples include workshops on managing test anxiety and stress management. Kadera states he would like to see more students taking advantage of these workshops.
Spreading awareness is the best way to fight any stigma surrounding mental illness.
Mental illness is a disorder of the mind, similar to a broken bone; the condition will become debilitating if left untreated. And while serious mental conditions can cause individuals to lash out or contemplate self-harm, it is a common misconception that those suffering from mental illnesses act erratically or dangerously.
An individual’s abilities or personal merits have no bearing on who will suffer from a mental disorder. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, one in five adults will suffer from mental illness in a given year. Mental illness can affect anyone, and seeking treatment as soon as possible is imperative.
Kadera says everyday people can support others who are suffering from mental illness or stress by listening without judgement, to let them know they aren’t alone. He also says if the issue is too big to handle, do not be afraid of recommending counseling.