September 15, 2019 | 75° F

Prioritizing mental health reduces academic burnout

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As a direct result of the challenges that college brings, many students may feel “burnt out,” leading to a lack of determination and motivation to continue throughout the semester. Additionally, many students suffer from mental health issues that exacerbate the situation, ultimately affecting not only academic success, but daily activities as well.

In fact, researchers found that 35 percent of the approximate 14,000 first-year college students surveyed struggled with a mental illness. The most common mental illness found among first-years was major depressive disorder, according to a worldwide study by the World Health Organization

There are University resources designed to help students achieve academic success while promoting self-care and recognizing mental health issues. Still, the stigma surrounding mental health may make students feel as if they should handle it on their own. This often results in a negative snowball effect.

With that being said, there are many ways to remain focused and driven to ensure academic success without overwhelming yourself. Studies have shown that mental illness and sleep deprivation intertwine, so it is crucial to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Developing lifestyle changes, such as reducing the amount of caffeine consumed, can reduce the risk of increased mental illness, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School. 

Because of a student's hectic class schedule, which often includes extracurriculars, it can be hard to stick to a sleep schedule that ensures getting the proper amount of rest. That’s why it is important to take a moment to step back from everything, even if it is just for a day, to prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the next day. 

Another great way to avoid burning out is to maintain a healthy diet consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner. People often underestimate just how vital breakfast is to starting your day. If your body does not get the proper amount of fuel it needs, this could potentially affect how the rest of your day unfolds. 

Despite the stress that comes with being a college student, the great thing about being at an establishment such as Rutgers is that there is an abundance of resources, including various support systems. Helping students feel comfortable is crucial to aiding them in voicing their concerns. 

Many students avoid discussing their problems in fear of a breach of confidentiality and privacy, according to Mental Health Carers NSW. Clearly, a sense of security is imperative. 

A great way to eliminate the fear of having your privacy violated is to start by asking friends questions pertaining to what they have been feeling and go from there. If this isn’t effective, then finding a support system with other students may be the best bet. For example, the Center for Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), offers various workshops focusing specifically on self-care, depression, anxiety and helping students recognize symptoms of mental illness. 

In addition to support groups, seeking out an academic coach located in the learning centers around campus can help students stay on the path to academic success. One of the biggest factors that can help reduce depression and anxiety is organization. Making a plan for when to study for exams and when assignments are due can help ease your stress.

Finally, realizing that you are not alone is the most effective way to avoid getting into a habit of burning out. Talk to your family members, friends and especially professors. That way, if you are a student dealing with mental health issues you will avoid getting into a hole that you may not be able to dig your way out of. 

Almier McCoy

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