Students Coping With Mental Health Issues

College can be a stressful time for many young people.1 Many students are away from home for the first time, and most have to deal with increased responsibility, as well as a heavier workload.


Ross Szabo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 16. "At 16 years old, I started going through a lot of symptoms. Not sleeping for four days at a time. Not sleeping for more than an hour a night for two weeks at a time, and not needing sleep," said Szabo. "I was always active. And, my mood would change at the flip of a switch. I would start hitting walls, start kicking things, flipping out on (acting crazy in front of) my parents, flipping out on my friends."

More than 10 years later, he is now an advocate for mental health awareness and speaks out to high school and college students. But Szabo says he took the long road to get here.

"You always hear [that] the medication and the diagnosis and the treatment are the most important things. But I really hated myself. The disorder led to a lot of negative feelings and anger, and I really took that out on myself. I really needed to care about myself, before I could deal with the bipolar disorder or anything else," said Szabo.

Ross Szabo says college students need to know that receiving a diagnosis of a mental illness is not the end of the world. "It is a starting point. It is by no means the end. It is going to take a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of effort. Nowhere could anyone ever say these things are fun, quick and easy to do. But, with work, time and effort, they are treatable. They are things you can get through," said Szabo.


Alison Malmon is the founder and executive director of Active Minds. She started the organization after her brother committed suicide. "He started experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder his freshman year," said Malmon. "But he was scared, ashamed, did not feel comfortable talking to anyone about what he was experiencing or feeling."

Malmon says Active Minds helps to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health issues that prevented her brother from getting help in time. "It offers students a venue to express their concerns and stories, the education to know what to say to their friends. That education was never there," said Malmon.

Here are links to information about some of the more common mental illnesses you may see in the college student population:
Anxiety Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Eating Disorders
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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