Throughout my time here at Webster, there was a term that I began to hear with increasing frequency, and eventually learned to recognize as a positive thing: mental health day. On these days the burden of work, school, and other responsibilities become overbearing and sometimes a breather is the only option to refocus in order to reset. Students will take these “mental health days” off of work or school just to get a much-needed break. I do this myself when my stress levels get out of hand.
Of course, this should not be confused with laziness. While some students may be apathetic and do not put in the effort, most others are battling stress, anxiety, and depression (sometimes unknowingly) without the proper knowledge or experience to cope with it. Potentially the largest issue is that many people, such as peers, parents, and professors, do not understand the severity of the situation. Millennials and young adults are often called “whiny” or “lazy” by older generations even though that is the opposite of what I believe to be true.
A lot of our newfound pressure comes from the increase in social media. We are told that we are not good enough because on social media platforms we see the “perfect” examples of who people are rather than the reality. We are given unrealistic expectations as to how our life should play out, how we should look, even how we should act. The harsh reality is that the world is not as sweet as portrayed on social media. With the current progression, if we get a degree we are not guaranteed a steady job, and that the environment is in immediate danger.
There’s a lot to be worried about, and it’s normal to be dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression, however I think mental health days are a good thing because it means this generation is doing something about it. Many young adults are trying to shake the stigma around mental health that previous generations grew up with by talking about it. Mental health issues have always been present in society, but now we have the courage, the ability, and the knowledge to speak up about them. We have decided to say that feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and depression is not okay and to put our mental health first.
Luckily at Webster, students have the option to get help with access to free counseling on campus, which is an amazing opportunity that not many people recieve. Many students are not informed of this possibility and therefore may miss out on seeking help when they need it. Bringing awareness to mental health issues and the resources we have to combat it can make a massive difference in the well-being of students and young adults as a whole.
I have seen the dangers of mental health firsthand, and what can happen if the situation gets out of control. It’s scary and what’s worse is it’s easily preventable. I think our generation is making massive steps in the right direction but we need to continue doing everything we can to normalize talking about mental health issues and how to treat them.