For many college students, juggling mental health and academics can be a tricky endeavor; students at SUNY Oswego are no exception to this struggle.
Mental health, while being spoken about more, can still be seen as stigmatized, with many students still struggling with how to balance it and schoolwork. This isn’t to mention the financial and social stressors that come with higher education.
SUNY Oswego junior Lily Logan says one of the hardest things for her mental health was transitioning from high school to college.
“It was hard for me to actually reach out to the counseling services and…talk to them about my mental health,” Logan said.
Logan says that the counseling services at Oswego can also be inconsistent.
“Either the semester ends,” Logan said, “or the therapist is leaving the program.” She also says it’s difficult to find a therapist that isn’t through the school.
Logan finds it difficult to make her mental health a priority while taking college courses.
“I have skipped classes every so often because I think I’m doing my best, and I still need to skip them because I physically and mentally can’t bring myself to go,” Logan said.
Logan says that there are ways to cope with school, such as watching movies or spending time alone to regain energy.
“Turning my brain off and being like, hey, let’s not think about school right now, let’s just think about anything else,” Logan said.
Logan also says Oswego has been good about making options outside of counseling available to students.
“I think that they offer—the school actually does offer a lot of programs, not necessarily just getting a counselor,” Logan said. “I actually do think that they do a good job with that part, but it’s harder…it hasn’t been advertised as much that you can set up an appointment and get a counselor.”
Research done by various doctors in the United States found that college students had a higher likelihood of engaging in substance abuse or developing an anxiety or eating disorder because of the stress of higher education.
Laura Halferty, an adjunct (part-time) creative writing professor at SUNY Oswego, says some of the stress can’t just be attributed to academics.
“So many students are working now,” Halferty said.
Halferty says she knows many students that have a full-time job in order to afford college along with other living expenses.
“I think that’s a big issue now,” Halferty said, “and I think it’s not just that college is expensive, it seems like there’s no way out of it.”
“Later on (in life) stress is different, but this is many things hitting you at once, and a lot of it you have no control over,” Halferty said.
Halferty says that because of teaching creative nonfiction writing classes, she learns a lot about the students she teaches.
“I feel empathy, but it scares me,” Halferty said. “Because of these things, I feel like I know what a lot of students are going through that maybe a lot of their other professors just don’t know about … and their parents.”
Halferty says an important part of balancing college and mental health is knowing when to let something go.
“Focus on the things you can accomplish in a certain period of time,” Halferty said.
A Mayo Clinic study found anxiety and depression have become more common among college students in the United States. This could be attributed to societal pressures and, as Halferty touched on, financial struggles.
Marangely Quirindongo-Morales, a senior at SUNY Oswego, says that the lack of days off has made it difficult to balance academics and mental health.
“I find that I am much more burned out and unmotivated this semester than my previous semesters here at SUNY Oswego,” Morales said.
Morales also says that although there are moments of lowered motivation, there are still things that help while on campus.
“The school has made a decent effort on informing their students about the mental health resources that are available with newer students,” Morales said, “or more so at the beginning of the semester.”