TIME.com posted an article today about the rise of depression and anxiety among college students.
The rise has been so dramatic that colleges are struggling to staff enough counselors to keep up with the demand; more students than ever before need therapy that universities are unprepared to offer.
Colleges (and high schools, and parents) are playing catch-up, trying to teach these young adults the life lessons and coping strategies they could have/should have learned when they were younger.
Objectively, school is harder than ever.
Schools are hyper-competitive, more than ever, creating intense stress to keep up.
Students have been fed the view that they are special and so deserve whatever they expect, leading to shattered psyches when these inflated expectations collide with the reality of college life, with its cold indifference to their cries of self-importance.
Ubiquitous, incessant social media feeds fool them into believing how much better everyone else is doing than they are, and mock them with all the fun others are allegedly having that they are missing out on.
College students are entering the largest pond in history and are being exposed as the smallest, most vulnerable fish.
This goes for almost every student, even the ones who are objectively successful in school — anxiety and depression show no favorites.
As I read this article I had two things on my mind, what was causing this spike and how are schools responding.
The article focuses on the need for therapy and the lack of adequate resources, not the underlying causes of these mental health issues.
What caught my eye was how colleges are responding to help students face and thrive in college…
Yeah, life-skills, like what we teach our students at SMAA.
- breath-control and relaxation skills to regulate emotions
- positive self-talk to persist in the face of adversity
- emotional intelligence so students can detach from their negative feelings and find solutions
- perseverance and taking appropriate actions to dispel their worries and fears
- how to ask for help from people who have their best interest at heart
- finding a positive mentor and building relationships to develop a support team
These are some the life-skills I learned through my martial arts training that helped me survive and excel at Northwestern University.
Gifting these critical life skills to my students BEFORE THEY NEED THEM IN COLLEGE is another reason I teach martial arts — to change the lives of my students.
As Frederick Douglas put it best,
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (and women).”
Just ask colleges across the country.
Here’s the original TIME article: