Stressed Out: the Mental Health To-Do List

You wake up and your mind is immediately filled with thoughts: what time is it, will I be late for class, is there coffee in my kitchen, did I finish my homework, if I'm late will my teacher notice, will I get a bad reputation, how much time do I have before finals, after finals what job will I find, will I even get a job? There's a sense of overwhelming concern, like your mind is constantly preoccupied with a to-do list that's fifty feet long.

When you're in college, rushing around and worrying is par for the course. You expect classes to be tough, to have some failures, but you try to keep going. But for a growing number of college campuses, these concerns are turning towards more severe issues. According to the American Psychological Association, 70 percent of College Counseling Center directors believe that mental health is a growing problem for students at their institutions.

Neglecting physical health to succeed paired with overlooking the necessity of your mental health sets a lot of college students up for severe complications. Some of the main issues surrounding this neglect stem from stigma. Many people in America refuse to recognize the medical basis of mental illness, they often tell people to "stop being sad" as a means of fixing the problem. College students face an epidemic. One that can be easily overlooked, or brushed off as simply "being stressed out."

If you feel yourself falling into that category, there are a few things you can do to help the situation. First of all, understand that seeking help for a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. You wouldn't feel ashamed of a physical illness. Addressing your mental health is no different. There's no shame in seeking out mental health services.

Surround yourself with a positive support network. Find someone who will listen and understand--whether that is an on campus counselor or a friend. The people in your life can be a huge asset in times of distress. Giving yourself a space to safely discuss the things that are bothering you allows you to approach them without feeling alone in them.

Remember that you are not alone. There are many people who share in those feelings. In the United States, 43.8 million adults experience a mental illness in a given year. Combating those feelings of loneliness by accepting help and support will go a long way.

If you wake up feeling overwhelmed and alone, don't sweep it under the rug. Remember that your mental health is far more important than a grade on a test, or those errands you need to run. When your to-do list gets overwhelming, remember to put your health at the top of it!