By Adebukola Olufotebi Clinical Psychotherapist at CEPS
(This Blog is in response to US News article titled 1 in 3 College Freshmen Has Depression, Anxiety)
It comes as no surprise that 1 in 3 college freshmen has depression or anxiety… Here’s why I am not shocked by this “news”:
1. These are FIRST year college students:
The first year of college is literally a redefining moment. Students are trying to figure out who they are, what they stand for, and who their friends are. This is anxiety provoking in and of itself! The transition from dependence to independence can be EXTREMELY overwhelming. The only way your laundry is going to get done is if YOU do it; the only way you’re going to eat is if YOU remember to do it (or if you saved those five dollars in your account to purchase any snack from the vending machine); the only way you’re going to make new friends is if YOU put in the effort to make new friends. Now how is one supposed to do all of that, get good grades, and then not be anxious or depressed, it’s almost inevitable!
2. We Are Still in a Pandemic:
In case you forgot, we are still in a pandemic!!! This pandemic has pushed some people to their mental limits. Many college freshmen completed their senior year of high school virtually. As we were advised to limit in person contact and activities during the start of the pandemic, it made it easier to not have to practice social skills and deal with the risks of making connections or dealing with rejection that often happens in college.
3. “This is the first day of the rest of their lives”
You know how during a graduation ceremony, there is always that one speaker that lets you know that this is the first day of the rest of your life? Well it’s true and I don’t think those speakers realize how underwhelming they make it seem! Being in college is so much pressure. It’s like you’re expected to have everything together on day one, from your major and minor to internships! This is so unrealistic, there is so much pressure to have everything figured out that the moment one feels that they do not have everything figured out or are not meeting their own expectations… They question everything about their abilities and place in life.
So yes, it makes sense that 1 in 3 college freshmen develops depression or anxiety. But the question remains… How can we help?