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by Madison Pitsch

With the increase in the number of stressful situation that college students today are undergoing, mental health has been at the forefront of many conversations recently. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death between the ages of 15-34 years old  in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Causes of mental health problems are as vast as the causes of physical problems that college students can face,” said Cara Kroeker, a counselor at Concordia University. “The two are strongly related.”

Physical health, genetic predisposition, poor eating habits, lack of time management and coping abilities, drug and alcohol use are typically main factors when it comes to taking care of mental health. She also acknowledged that college students in particular are more prone to have mental health issues because they are living in the developmental stages of life- the time when they are discovering who they are.

Sometimes the stress and discomfort college students are feeling is due to  their process of “making sense of their past and figuring out what that means for themselves and their future,” said Kroeker. She also states the importance of understanding that mental health terms have certainly become more common, and that while one might have periodical feelings of depression or anxiety it does not mean that they have depression or an anxiety disorder.

Having these feelings does not mean they have to be bottled up. Concordia provides medical and counseling services, along with advisors, coaches and instructors who can help students in and outside of the classroom. Andreea Baker (campus nurse) Pastor Matthias, Cara Kroeker and Corey Gray can all help with medical, spiritual, mental and career guidance, respectively. Kroeker suggests finding a faculty or staff member you have connected with and asking questions.

There are several ways to cope with anxious and stressful feelings. Kroeker suggests having a planner that allows  you to write out plans for a week in advance and limiting drug, alcohol and even technology use.

“Stress is unavoidable, so keeping the body healthy while learning how to manage it is key for this time of life and beyond,” said Kroeker. “Life will definitely not slow down, so this is the perfect time to learn what it takes to manage personal, professional and recreational lives.”

If someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or excessive stress, your response is important in dealing effectively with the problem. Kroeker emphasized the fact that sometimes not every person is equipped to handle someone else’s needs.

“Asking questions is as vital in understanding any person’s needs,” said Kroeker. “Just as vital is understanding your own limitations… . Seek to understand as much as possible, then help to build a bridge to the person who can help them in the area they are struggling.”

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