***Trigger warning – this article contains mention of suicide, depression and mental health disorders in general***
As the UMass Boston community returns to campus for the Fall 2022 semester, there is an issue that continues to stay at the forefront of many students’ minds—mental health. It’s no secret that college is a stressful environment because of its significant financial and academic pressure. Whether students are struggling with stress or serious mental health disorders, there are ways to cope and strategies to heal.
The pandemic has exacerbated the already existing mental health crisis on college campuses and created an ever-increasing need for resources that help address this issue. It’s no secret that isolation and lockdowns, coupled with the uncertainty and fear that surround global crises, generate an environment where mental health must be seriously addressed. (1)
Despite these circumstances, UMass Boston provides a variety of resources to help students who might be struggling with mental health issues. University Health Services offers free support including same-day care via telephone or email, consultation appointments and outreach events.
Their various services include one-on-one therapy, as well as group therapy that covers a variety of topics including depression, anxiety and mindfulness. They can also help provide referrals for off-campus care, if needed. More information and resources can be found on the UHS page on the UMass Boston website under “Counseling Center,” or by emailing email@example.com.
Another way to prioritize mental health this semester is to take advantage of the free physical health resources that exist on the UMass Boston campus. Regular exercise reduces anxiety, improves sleep, improves brain function and can lead to increased self-esteem. These don’t just improve students’ mental health; they contribute to a healthier lifestyle overall. (2)
Much like exercise, mindfulness can be used as a holistic approach to improving mental well-being. (3) UMass Boston’s website has a variety of mindfulness and wellness resources under the Resources4U section, including breathing exercises, meditation and other mental exercises to combat anxiety and depression.
Additionally, the Network of Care Massachusetts has a hub on their website specifically dedicated to mental health tips for those struggling during the pandemic, which can be reached at their website. This includes information on stress, suicide prevention, shelter and food insecurity, unemployment and substance abuse. These resources are free and might be helpful for those looking to educate themselves on a specific topic, whether it be for their own well-being or that of a loved one.
Students may feel a certain amount of shame or embarrassment for struggling with mental health, which can dissuade those in need from reaching out for help. Those worried about this stigma should know that they are not alone and they don’t have to be isolated in their struggle.
It has been estimated by the American College Health Association that one in five college students in the United States struggles with depression or anxiety disorders, and even more students deal with overwhelming stress and dread surrounding debt and employment after graduation. (4) Support groups exist that serve to foster a sense of community for those who might otherwise not have it.
The Tribe Wellness Community offers free online support groups for a wide range of topics. From addiction to obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and depression, these groups, combined with other therapeutic strategies, can help those who are struggling start to thrive. (5)
For anyone in the need of emergency care or crisis intervention, the Massachusetts Emergency Services Program/Mobile Crisis Intervention helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 1-877-382-1609.