According to studies conducted by Statista and The American Institute of Stress, more than 60% of college students in the U.S. are experiencing stress-like symptoms, including depression and anxiety. Some students in this study reported feeling “overly overwhelmed” by the school workload, while others denied participation entirely due to high levels of anxiety.
Since this is becoming an increasing problem on college campuses, professors must pay careful attention to their students’ behavior. They should know how to react to certain situations and be prepared to help any struggling student.
For someone to be able to do that, they must first detect how struggling with mental health looks like. Here are six of the most important signs that you should be aware of, as a leader in education.
1. Frequently late or absent
If your student skips too many classes or doesn’t show up at all, chances are something’s going on. If they show up late too many times, same thing. Something might be happening at home. While you might think that the student is simply lazy or not interested, there could be other causes for his or her behavior. Don’t be quick to assume.
Many students find it easy to get out of bed in the morning because they’re feeling depressed or unable to move. Others might have trouble being surrounded by many people because of their social anxiety, so they’re late to avoid chit-chatting. There is an answer to everything once you dig deeper—and as a professor, that’s part of your job description.
2. Not doing their homework
Think about it this way. If you were a student, would you be doing homework on the worst day of your life? Or would you wait for something that gives meaning to your life to happen? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably the latter. You wouldn’t be able to focus on homework while your whole world is falling apart. You’d be procrastinating and preoccupying your time with something that distracts you. Or you’d lay in bed and wait for a miracle.
Same goes for your students. None of them are perfect—and nor are you. They are humans in need of space. When they’re feeling on edge, they can’t work. And you should be open enough to understand this—and, of course, have a serious discussion with them about it.
3. Spending too much time alone
While it’s true that not all of us are extroverts, we still make friends, as introverts. We might not be as sociable as others, but we’re still in need of some sort of connection.
If your student is on the verge of depression, she won’t make any friends and spend a whole bunch of time alone. She won’t crave that human connection nor will she be interested in participating in various school activities. She’ll probably act indifferently to whatever happens and never finish her essay in due time.
If that’s the case, then you must try and have a conversation with her/his parents. When your kid’s avoiding any type of social interaction, chances are he or she is not feeling that great.
4. Getting poor grades and checking out an essay example
Not every student getting poor grades is depressed, of course. But if you’re having a conversation with the student about it—and they’re denying that they’re struggling—that should be your question mark. Why won’t they admit they’ve got a problem? Why can’t they see reality for what it is? Here’s when you should start asking more questions and maybe have a chat with the parents. If they’re never trying, something’s off.
If they feel stuck with writing to the point that it affects their mental-illnesses, they should try and check out another student’s essay example. They can always access https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/mental-illness/ to get inspired and stay on top of their work. Also, there are a lot of free essay examples on any topic here. It is really helpful for every student.
5. Body language and facial expressions
Your student’s face and body can tell a lot about their mood. If the student’s making little to no eye contact, that could be a problem. Also, if their body language is too closed off, they might be struggling. In that case, you could let their parents know; if that’s taking it too far, recommend them a school counselor. Let them open up to someone about their struggles. You have no idea how much this can help them!
6. Using substances
Many college students drink for fun, but if this becomes a regular thing, things are heading south. When your students are experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and other things way too often, you must draw the line. You must take responsibility and confront them on their struggles before it’s too late. If needed, bring their parents into the conversation. Help them see how big of a problem this could become.
These are just six of the most relevant signs that a student is fighting a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Make sure you research as much as you can (and more!) to be prepared for whatever happens. Keep your head up and mind open. Keep your conversations casual. They’ll come around eventually.