Editor's Note: Cause and Effect
by Frankie James Albin | published Feb. 1st, 2019
The culture we experience in college life binds us to an environment that constantly puts our mental health at risk — more than we may sometimes like to admit.
This culture is incredibly toxic.
As college students, we are constantly bombarded with our academic, personal, work, family and everyday pressures, expectations and stressors — with little opportunity to breathe. We have to manage all of that, along with the undertones of being pushed to succeed and be perfect in all of those aspects of life.
The ever-increasing expectations that are ingrained into us, and those we put on ourselves, lead to a situation where our mental and physical health become forgotten priorities for the sake of success, or even just getting by.
We inevitably lack the time, ability and mental capacity to reasonably meet all of those expectations.
We continually feel selfish for taking time for, or caring for ourselves. Oftentimes we compete with each other in harmful ways — comparing how little we have slept the night before or how little we ate that day.
We are so engulfed in our academic and work lives that we don’t always take time to be human beings. We don’t even have time to deal with the crises that occur in our personal and family lives that would otherwise be life-disrupting.
We should not be forced into, or force ourselves into, this pernicious culture of being overworked, unbalanced and overstressed. When we see this happen to others, we just think we need to push ourselves even harder to keep up — and the cycle proliferates.
We currently have an overwhelming amount of life to live, and to juggle. We should not be crawling along, day by day. I see everyone around me breaking. I see myself breaking, too.
In seeking to improve mental health, we need not solely look at the treatment of symptoms, but also the cause. Why is our college culture like this, and what can we do to change it? We as a university, and as a community, need to work to address this question, along with our other conversations and efforts, and not allow it to be omitted from those conversations and efforts.