College is supposed to make up the best four years of your life.

Idyllic though that may be, it’s true that college is an exciting time — one made for self-discovery, learning, adventures and planning for the future. But sometimes, it feels like life gets in the way. So what do you do?

In spring 2018, more than 85% of college students reported feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do, more than 65% reported having felt very sad in the last 12 months and 63% reported having felt overwhelming anxiety during the same time frame. More than 40% reported having felt so depressed it was difficult to function. 

In addition to some obvious stressors like academics and social life, some mental health professionals say that college students now face increased financial burdens, compared to those in previous generations, which further contributes to the issue. 

Victor Schwartz, medical director of the Jed Foundation, which works with colleges to improve mental health resources, said the increasingly competitive nature of college has exacerbated the problem, too.

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“There’s a much more radical feeling that you’re either a winner or a loser,” Schwartz said. “That’s put tremendous pressure on college students and is feeding a lot of the anxiety we’re seeing.”

So mental health is a relevant, important issue on college campuses. That’s not exactly new information. But it is so vital that we talk about it. 

While you’re busy discovering yourself, learning, adventuring and planning for the future, it can be easy to lose yourself in the process — but it’s important to remember that you must always come first. Take care of yourself, and the rest will follow. 

It’s also important to recognize that, while no one likes to feel overwhelmed or sad or alone, those feelings are valid. Feeling overwhelmed or sad or alone is not a sign of weakness, and it should not be thought of as a problem.

Everyone experiences periods of highs and lows in their lives, and both stages are equally as valid. When you’re in a low state, don’t feel too much pressure to pull yourself out of it — sometimes you have to just exist in that state, and that’s OK.

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But when you are ready to work on changing where you are in life, the resources available to you are endless. University Health Services offers group and individual counseling services, psychiatry, survivor services, an online do-it-yourself self-help course for those new to mental healthcare and so much more. There is also a 24-hour crisis line to support you in times of need — regardless of the time.

Beyond UHS, student groups like ASK.LISTEN.SAVE. are valuable resources for students who care about mental health on campus, and want to be involved in supporting other students while supporting themselves. 

Regardless of your approach, the bottom line is this: Taking care of your mental health is the most important part about your campus experience. We really shouldn’t think of it as getting in the way of the other things we care about — mental healthcare is part of self-discovery, learning, adventuring and planning for the future. 

The more we talk about it and the more we create space for others to talk about it, the more we can help each other and support ourselves. Remember — it’s OK not to be OK

The Badger Herald Editorial Board serves to represent the voice of the editorial department, distinct from the newsroom, and does not necessarily reflect the views of each staff member.