What is the Deal with Mental Health and First-Year College Students?

Rowan students walk down Rowan Boulevard, laughing with each other.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

The first year of college is both exciting and terrifying. You are moving away from home, gaining a sense of independence, and expected to balance a lot of things along with these changes, such as academics, meeting new people, and tons of other pressures and expectations.

When mental health struggles come into the mix, all these expectations and responsibilities become exacerbated.

In a study from The University of Texas at San Antonio, researchers looked at the differences in mental health diagnoses and the academic impact of these struggles for students of all years in college, but specifically that of first-year students. In the study, it was found that while first-year students do struggle with mental health and academic pressures, they are more likely to overcome these struggles than upperclassmen, who may have more rigorous academic demands.

However, it is seen in this study that “one’s first-year of college is the prime time to promote awareness of mental health issues, their impact on academic success in future years, and prevention strategies” (Wyatt, et al, 2017).

Students sit and talk outside on Rowan Boulevard on Rowan University's campus.

This shows that making resources on campus more accessible for first-year students is essential for the general well-being of students, allowing them the opportunity to reach out for help if needed. So, if students are confronting mental health issues as they start or throughout their education at Rowan University, we need to further promote these resources that we have on campus for them.

When students feel comfortable using these resources, they will feel more inclined to reach out when they are struggling.

Rowan University offers many resources for students struggling with their mental health such as Counseling and Psychological Services and Public Safety, where students can call if they find themselves in crisis at any time with the number provided below.

In addition to this, Rowan offers programs such as Chill and Chat on Fridays at 11am and Chill and Chat on Monday at 2 p.m. in the Wellness Center. While these events are not counseling, they bring students together to relax and meet friends in the face of all the stressors of college!

In addition, the Wellness Center does have pet therapy for students that want to meet with a therapy dog. So if you or anyone you know is a Rowan student who may be struggling, reach out and take advantage of some of these resources.

Students pet a therapy dog on Bunce Green.

If you are ever in crisis, please call Public Safety at 856-256-4911.
Wellness Center Links:
https://sites.rowan.edu/wellness/counseling/
https://sites.rowan.edu/wellness/hci/get-involved.html
https://sites.rowan.edu/wellness/pettherapy/

References

Wyatt, T. J., Oswalt, S. B., & Ochoa, Y. (2017). Mental health and academic success of first-year
college students. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(3), 178.
https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v6n3p178

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Story by:
Summer Slusarski, sophomore psychological science major

Photos by:
Rowan Blog Digital Content Contributors

Produced by:
Joseph Conte, junior community and environmental planning major

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