To say that the COVID-19 has brought about a volley of changes to our lives, would be a gross understatement. It has completely redefined our lifestyles. Along with these drastic changes, new words have been introduced to our lingo; namely ‘Quarantine’, ‘Doom Scrolling’, ‘Lockdown’ etc. But my favorite new word would undoubtedly be Huffington’s choice for the 2021 word of the year-’Resilience+’. The word indicates hope and a plethora of possibilities for this otherwise bleak epoch. 

Another reason I adore this word is because it has strong connections with the domain of Mental Health Awareness. 

I think issues regarding Mental Health have also gained considerable traction during the worldwise lockdown. The one good thing that has come out of the pandemic, if you ask me. 

As students of a premier institute of technology in India, I am sure that many of us have or are still grappling with mental health issues or maybe are in denial. It can be defined as a three part issue- identifying the problem, breaking through the stigma and getting help and support. Needless to say, each stage comes with its own challenges. 

This article focuses on addressing the issue of understanding and identifying mental health problems. 

Now mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. This is the WHO definition. 

In layman terms it indicates the general psychological and emotional well-being of an individual. Good mental health is quintessential to a wholesome life. The importance of being mentally healthy is often disregarded in many communities. Unlike a broken arm, or a failing liver, unhealthy thinking patterns are intangible and hence many regard mental health as another excuse to escape work. Citing mental health issues is often frowned upon as it is an indication of something being wrong with the person. But just as medication and a cast can help heal a broken arm; medication, therapy and support helps heal emotional wounds as well. Would you want someone to live perpetually with a broken arm? Or would you rather have it fixed. The euphemism of a broken arms works perfectly here. The person who has a broken arm may or may not have caused it, it needs to be fixed and most importantly, there is a solution ie. a cure to a broken arm. Another thing, the sooner the arm is set, the better!

This article is here to help you understand the importance of good mental health and also to discuss what mental health issues are commonly found amongst college students. 

A mental disorder is usually found when patterns of thinking change and the person in question is feeling distressed. Mental health disorders usually disrupt a person’s ability to function. Mental health is a spectrum. It is highly complex and there is no absolute right or wrong. Apart from causing significant distress to the person suffering, a mental illness can also hurt personal and family relationships, performance at the workplace/school and social involvement. In severe cases it can bring about addiction problems, suicide attempts, violence and even self-harm and self-sabotaging behaviour. Several cultural and societal norms can also factor in, making one person’s views on good mental health differ from others. There are several reasons that may cause mental health to suffer, like- thinking patterns, family background, unhealthy coping mechanisms, death,  past experiences, major life changes, genes, abuse, trauma, hormonal imbalances, substance abuse, relationships, work problems and the environment in which you are living in general. Many people do forget that even hormonal changes and genes have a major say in how your mental health is keeping up!

Whatever the case is, it is always better to speak up when in doubt. If you feel any of the below mentioned for a prolonged period of time, you may be suffering from a mental health condition: 

  • Marked changes in personality, eating or sleeping patterns
  • An inability to cope with problems or daily activities
  • Feeling of disconnection or withdrawal from normal activities
  • Unusual or “magical” thinking
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Prolonged sadness, depression or apathy
  • Thoughts or statements about suicide or harming others
  • Substance misuse
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violent behaviour

(Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not – Mayo Clinic)(source for the above points)

College students are said to be one of the most susceptible groups of the population to be afflicted with a variety of mental health disorders. This comes as no surprise. Young adults are a raging mass of hormones. As college students many of us are navigating adult life for the first time. There are academic pressures to deal with and social obligations to fulfil. Many of us are just beginning to discover our likes and dislikes, which in itself is a tumultuous process. There is also the huge factor of having to deal with one’s peer group. Peer pressure and peer inclusion become quite important to us. It is a lot to deal with, all at once!

Issues like anxiety, depression, addiction, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, PTSD and Identity Disorders are common. Whatever the issue is, know that there is a solution and that help is always at hand!

Given the recent untowardly incident that has taken place on campus, we at Pulse have decided to shine some light on the issue of Mental Health. We urge anyone who is suffering to get in touch with a friend, elder, counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or a licensed medical worker. You do not have to suffer alone!

Here at NITK, we also have a well-known initiative called NITK Continue to help you in your fight against unspoken and unfamiliar struggles of mental health. They are on a journey to build an organization that fills the gap in our society’s acute understanding of mental health. They are also trying to build a campus that is tolerant and recognizes the mental health needs of its students. They are on a journey to build an organization that can bridge the gap between the administration and the students with respect to mental health. They also wish to educate students of their own struggles that they themselves often can’t understand. Their aim is to build a community of students and administration that is supportive of everyone’s mental health needs.