Emotional wellness involves understanding one's self and adequately facing the challenges life brings. For college students those challenges may include managing emotional reactions such as anxiety, depression and their frequent companion, stress. These are all perfectly normal human emotions that can provide motivation and help build character. It's only when they begin to limit one's ability to function with confidence that they can become an issue. In Spring 2017, a national survey* revealed that 20.6% of college students reported being diagnosed or treated for anxiety within the previous 12 months, while 16.7% were diagnosed or treated for depression in that period.
The 24/7 influence of social media has undoubtedly contributed to this increase due to its ever-more prominent influence in the way individuals judge themselves and others.
Learning to manage our emotional reaction to stress is critical in attaining emotional balance and well-being. Beginning to better understand ourselves (our patterns and responses to stress) while keeping things in perspective (acknowledgement that 'it is what it is'), and be willing to get help when we need it, is a large component to emotional wellness. This mental resourcefulness of identifying the area of concern, and employing coping, persistence and resilience skills where possible, is an important factor in achieving overall health and well-being, enabling us to maintain the necessary optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and ability to experience and cope with feelings independently and interpersonally. Remember that wellness is a journey, which requires practice. We strive for progress, not perfection, along the way. Practicing radical self-acceptance and loving self-compassion can go a long ways in helping each of us find the emotional intelligence and wellbeing necessary for a more fulfilling and peaceful life.
At Student Wellness, we believe that every individual can find unique and healthy ways of coping with stressors. Most importantly, we strongly believe in de-stigmatizing emotional and mental health issues. Everyone struggles at various points in life. You are not in this alone. Many of your friends have likely experienced similar challenges. And campus has numerous resources to support you - so utilize friends, resident assistants, faculty, staff, parents, or even anonymous online/phone resources if needed.
* Source: American College Health Association (ACHA) Spring 2017 National College Health Assessment
Mental Health America's Wellness Circle
The "Mind Your Health" campaign from Mental Health America of the Triangle's campaign encourages people to examine the state of their own emotional well-being. The standards-based Wellness Circle is a valuable tool in helping students achieve their full potential, free from stigma and prejudice. (Image adapted below.)
Steps to determining your own Emotional Wellness status
Screening: A screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Getting Help: There are a wide range of treatments and supports for children, families and adults. Unfortunately, they can be hard to find or pay for. We're here to help.
Sticking to Your Plan: Treating your mental health or substance use condition is about more than therapy and medication. You can get help with everything from housing to relationships, too.
Promote Well-being in Your Life: Regardless of whether you have a mental health or substance use condition, you can live your life well.