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Mental Health Matters By: Grace Clukey

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to attend an eye-opening presentation by Dr. Philip Schulte, a practicing psychiatrist. Dr. Schulte spoke about the intricate relationship between our mental and physical health and shared ways to combat these issues as college students. He began his talk by providing SAMHSA’s definition of mental health, which states that it "includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices." This definition highlights how our mental health influences almost every aspect of our daily lives, making it ever more important to take care of it. Statistics show that more than 60% of college students experience mental health issues, marking a 50% increase since 2016. College life throws numerous stressors upon us, which, to an extent, can be motivating, but excessive stress takes a toll on our mental health. It is just as important to take care of your mental health as it is to take care of your physical health. Dr. Schulte broke down three seemingly simple yet incredibly essential ways to enhance our overall mental health. First, ensure you get the recommended seven or more hours of quality sleep; second, make an effort to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily diet; and third, exercise regularly. While these steps might appear straightforward, they are most often neglected by busy college students. In addition to these fundamental tasks, integrating self-care is key. You don’t need to set aside an entire day to practice self-care, but rather implement at least one self-care activity daily, no matter how small or big.

Here is a list that I came up with of less obvious ways to implement self-care:

  1. Take a break from your phone.

  2. Keep a journal.

  3. Read for fun.

  4. Go for a long walk.

  5. Stay in for a self-care night rather than going out.

  6. Spend quality time with friends.

  7. Paint or draw.

  8. Bake or cook something new.

  9. Tidy up your space.

  10. Hang out with your pet or volunteer with animals.

  11. Buy yourself flowers.

  12. Plan your next mental health day or activity.

World Mental Health Day was this past week, highlighting that mental health is a human right and that there is still an ongoing fight to break down stigmas surrounding mental health, improve knowledge, and raise awareness. Check in on your friends, listen to them, and encourage them to seek professional help when needed.

Here is a link that Dr. Schulte shared with local mental health resources: Link.

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