August 25, 2019 | 77° F

Mental health does not make money

U. must better CAPS, mental health services to assist students


College is a hotbed for stress. Performing the daily circus act that is balancing an academic, social and professional life is overwhelming, and doing all of this while being away from home for the first time is nothing short of scary. Even if you’re just a few towns away from home, being completely on your own for the first time can be stressful. Especially at a school as large as Rutgers, it is easy to feel like everyone is off doing their own thing, making friends and having fun in class. Yet because of the general negative stigma surrounding mental health and mental health issues, people wait too long to get help, if they even seek help at all. When you’re physically sick, you tell the world, “Oh I have a cough today. My throat feels like sandpaper.” But no one says, “I’m feeling anxious today — I’m really worried about making friends here.”

Social anxiety may feel like a thing of the past, done away with the completion of prom season and old crushes. But the pressure to have friends and fit in at Rutgers can feel astronomical. For students at the University, the weekend starts Thursday and doesn’t end until well into the afternoon on Sundays. Throw in a $2 Tuesday or an Easton Avenue day drink, and it starts to feel like there is something going on here. While a party or hanging out with friends can help to alleviate the regular stress of being in college, students are stigmatized or even made fun of for wanting to stay in for a night or two on the weekend, further exacerbating an already high stress situation. A 2008 Associated Press and mtvU survey of college students showed that 75 percent of the some 4 million adults living with anxiety experienced their first episode before the age of 22, the age that most students are when they near the end of college.

There is too much pressure involved in getting in to, being in and graduating college, and no one wants to talk about the mental strain that can put on an individuals’ well being. Within their majors many students experience an unnecessary weeding out process that pits students against one another. This weeding out process should ended with their acceptance into college in the first place. However the competition forces students to drop out of their majors, changing their life goals and pushes many towards an area of uncertainty.

Rutgers Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is an on-campus mental health service designed to assist students. It takes a great amount of courage for a student to come forward and admit that they need help, that their problems are too big for them to will away or sweep under the rug. Those who are able to come to grips with their need for assistance have already won half the battle. While CAPS has most likely helped countless students mitigate troubling circumstances, the demand for help far exceeds their capability to assist students in their time of need.

In many circles on campus, the general consensus is that unless you’re on the verge of a breakdown or feeling suicidal, CAPS won’t be able to help you. Therefore, instead of creating new learning and living communities that could potentially breed unnecessary stress and anxiety, the University should invest more time, energy and financial resources into improving CAPS.

As a nation, we wait until tragedy strikes in order to pay attention to the serious issues living among us. Mental health becomes relevant when someone becomes a victim of bullying. Mental health becomes relevant when someone shoots up a church or a school. Mental health becomes relevant when a teenager takes his or her own life. But mental health is relevant every day. For some students, just getting out of bed in the morning is triumph. The fact of the matter is that anxiety, depression and other serious mental health issues are here to stay. College campuses inadvertently breed such conditions, making it the responsibility of administrators, faculty and staff to ensure that the proper outlets exist to help students in need.

The Daily Targum

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