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Recent studies indicate that the rates of depression are alarming among the college students. Millions of college students are experiencing depressive symptoms effectively making their daily lives problematic. Some of these depressive symptoms include drowsiness, irritability, sense of hopelessness, and apathy. Report findings indicate that these symptoms can be attributed to stressors like inadequate sleep, inadequate social adaptation, the transition to the college lifestyle, and academic pressure. The reports also indicate that there are variations in the number of depression cases among the female and male students. Students suffering from depression risk having serious health implications if necessary steps are not taken to remedy the situation. Universities should develop counseling programs to provide psychological services to the students. However, the success of the program can only be achieved when both the students and the colleges collaborate to address the issue.
Overview of Depression
Depression is defined as a serious mental disorder that affects both the body and the mind of an individual. People suffering from depression have low self-esteem, disinterest in daily activities, and also experience difficulty in sleeping. If necessary precautions are not taken to avert the situation, depression can lead to substance abuse, suicide, and poor health. Studies have not been able to identify the one primary cause of depression. Report findings indicate that it results from a combination of several recurrent symptoms. Some of the most prevalent causes include chemical imbalance linked to genetics and heredity, substance abuse, chronic health problems like cancer, and high-stress levels. The primary symptoms of depression comprise the change in moods, feelings of sadness and irritability, mental exhaustion, feelings of hopelessness, and losing interest in activities that an individual used to like.
Current situation of Depression in Colleges
Over the years, transitioning to college life has proved to be cumbersome for most college students. The students face various stressors such as culture shock which, if not handled carefully can be detrimental to the student’s life. The sources of stress might vary from one individual to another. However, there are some overlapping causes which every student encounters.
Swanholm, Vosvick, and Chng conducted a study to evaluate the causes of depression among the college student. The study found out that interpersonal relationship, living arrangements, sexual behaviors, and the management of new choices regarding employment as the primary causes of stress among the students. They identified that the college environment presented many factors which became difficult for the students to manage. In their study, Swanholm, Vosvick, and Chng indicated that the students tried to manage external factors such as employment, sexual behaviors, and a demanding curriculum that proved difficult. The study identified that the extent to which these factors created a stressful environment for the students depended on their personality, choices, and circumstances.
According to Swanholm, Vosvick and Chng in their study noted that relationship status and employment were attributed to the cause of most depressive symptoms in these institutions. The research identified that high levels of depressions were associated with unemployment and not being in sexual or interpersonal relationships. The unemployment status was associated with low-self esteem and high depression levels among the students aged between 18 and 25. Most of the students who experienced these symptoms initially assumed that they were caused by student jobs which required increased physical labor and time. However, it has been proved that unemployment causes more depressive symptoms among the students than the student jobs. Swanholm, Vosvick and Chng’s found out that financial burden and monetary concerns among college students often increased the recurrence of depressive symptoms.
Similar studies conducted by Wilbert and Rupert found out the inadequate social adjustments to the college environment, and the lifestyles produced feelings of depression. They identified that students that were not in social or romantic relationships experienced feelings of loneliness during their college experiences. The loneliness showed a positive correlation to feelings of depression, distrust, and powerlessness. The study also identified that the students that were not in relationships experienced negative views from their peers thereby hindering their engagement in relationships. These students were observed to exhibit depressive symptoms like lack of interest to engage in social activities and loneliness.
In their study, Brooks, Girgenti, and Mills identified the lack of enough sleep as one of the major causes of depressive symptoms among the college students. They found out that the students failed to sleep for the recommended 8 hours since they had to maintain the schedule of their busy lifestyle. The study indicated that most of the students woke up very early either for sports workouts or to attend classes and they spend late nights studying or partying, therefore, disturbing their sleeping patterns. Lack of enough sleep is directly related to mental disorders like depression. As a consequence, individuals having sleep disturbances have an increased risk of developing the depression disorder. The study also indicated that lack of enough sleep was not only the cause but also the effect of depression.
Another study undertaken by Boggiano and Barrett it was established that the depressive symptoms were more prevalent among the female students than the male students. It indicated that the females had a 10% higher probability of experiencing depressive symptoms than their male counterparts. The study identified the two possible reasons that increased the depression levels among the female students. Some of the major concerns regarded body image and interpersonal relationships that received more acknowledgments from women. According to the study, females were more concerned about establishing intimate relationships which served an important part of their identity driving their social interactions and fulfillment. The study findings also indicated that most female students reported dissatisfactions with their body images. Therefore, most of the females worked extra hard to lose weight and have a particular body shape and size that was usually portrayed in the media outlets. Failure to achieve the desired results caused depression because most of the women felt that they had a poor self-image.
Measures that would change the State of the Situation
Depression causes devastating effects on the students. For instance, it is the primary cause of poor performance in higher institutions. Therefore, there is the need to change the situation using a critical analytical method. Before treatment of the affected population, critical evaluation should be conducted to identify the factors causing depression among the victims to develop the necessary treatment approaches. I would help to change the situation by using the following critical analytical procedures.
Identification of the students at risk is the first step in the treatment of the targeted victims. For instance, the identification would involve evaluating the medical history of the students and the conduct of several screening opportunities. The process would enable the providers to determine the level of the risks facing the college students and make referrals regarding preventive care whenever necessary. Moreover, I would encourage the development of an interactive screening program which would target the college students that might be reluctant to be diagnosed by the traditional psychological services. The plan would help to create a help-seeking behavior among the college students enabling them to open up and provide critical information about their lifestyles that is fundamental in the treatment process. Also, the program would provide a platform for the students to share their stories to encourage other young people suffering from similar struggles to seek medical support. The plan would primarily focus on raising awareness regarding mental health among the college students and the
Furthermore, I would encourage the healthcare providers to incorporate motivational interviewing and evidence-based practice to enhance psychological and pharmacological treatments to address the problems facing the college students. Furthermore, during the treatment, their providers should consider several issues which are related to the developmental stage of the disorder and the demographic location of the college students. Some of the considerations can be applied to both the traditional and the non-traditional student, whereas others can only be applied to a specific group. For instance, when dealing with the traditional college students, it would be essential to recognize that they are still dependent on their parents. Therefore, parental involvement in the process would be advisable. For example, the parents could be invited to the treatment meeting with the students to address the issues facing their children. Consequently, they could be enlisted as sources of support to enhance the improvement of the student’s condition. I would also encourage the facilitators of the program to educate the parent on some of the developments they should expect during the early stages of recovery to enhance their ability to support the students to cope with the cycles of remissions and relapses during the recovery period.
On the other hand, I would also promote the development of the parent-based intervention to help facilitate the treatment approaches. The involvement of the parents would be beneficial even in instances whereby they live far from the students. Even if remotely, the parents could be able to provide vital information concerning the history of the patients, college students. Moreover, the parents could also prove essential in facilitating the continuity of care for the patients during school breaks. Despite the college student being over 18 years, parental consent is required before conducting mental evaluations. Therefore, the parent-based approach would enable the care providers to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment to gauge its effectiveness in enhancing the achievement of positive results.
Regarding the continuity of care, I would ensure that the affected students have access to the necessary care services even during their holiday breaks. For instance, I would promote the development of a follow-up system that would ensure those remote students staying their parents are followed remotely with the intermittent support of the college. In this context, the college’s healthcare service providers would communicate with the providers in the remote locations to ensure that the student was free from any health risk and the necessary care was provided adequately. For some of the students that might have had their care providers in the college, I would ensure that management sets up necessary procedures that would ensure that these patients are given psychotherapy medications during the breaks. Most of the service providers in colleges provide limited care services based on the insurance packages of the students. I would propose diversification of the system to incorporate an extensive referral approach in the counseling centers that would enable the students with severe medical disorders to access high-quality care. Furthermore, I would encourage the college providers to coordinate with private care providers to enhance the delivery of efficient services.
Depression is a severe mental problem facing the college students. To decrease the number of students battling this condition, colleges, and other higher learning institutions need to develop approaches to understating the illness, identifying its causes and effects among the student population. The criteria would enhance the development of preventive programs that may need an implementation to address the causes of depression and the possible coping mechanism for the college students. A better understanding of depressive symptoms is vital to the college in facilitating the provision of adequate services that would improve the health status of the patients. Due to its health impacts, both the schools and the students should work together to mitigate the depressive symptoms. Additionally, the colleges should strive to improve the mental health services and the environment of the institution to lessen the stressors causing depression in this context. Working together would enable the school and the students to come up with interventions that would work to eliminate depression among the college students.
- Boggiano, Ann K., and Marty Barrett. “Gender differences in depression in college students.” Sex Roles 25, no. 11 (2002): 595-605.
- Brooks, Peggy R., Alicia A. Girgenti, and Maura J. Mills. “Sleep patterns and symptoms of depression in college students.” College Student Journal 43, no. 2 (2009): 464-473.
- Furr, Susan R., John S. Westefeld, Gaye N. McConnell, and J. Marshall Jenkins. “Suicide and depression among college students: A decade later.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 32, no. 1 (2001): 97.
- Swanholm, Eric, Mark Vosvick, and Chwee-Lye Chng. “Pessimism, trauma, risky sex: Covariates of depression in college students.” American journal of health behavior, 33, no. 3 (2009): 309-318.
- Wilbert, Jeffrey R., and Patricia A. Rupert. “Dysfunctional attitudes, loneliness, and depression in college students.” Cognitive Therapy and Research 10, no. 1 (2000): 71-77.