Staff Ed: Mental health should be treated as priority by both students and faculty during finals season
By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF
In recent years, an increasing awareness of mental illnesses, particularly on college campuses, has become more prevalent. The significance of these illnesses, especially during the time a student is in college, is unmistakable and cannot be overlooked. For many students, college is the first time that they are on their own and for many others, there is an immense pressure to succeed from their parents, friends, mentors, etc.
Last week, a member of The Blue & Gray Press staff made the decision to leave the University of Mary Washington because of mounting issues they faced with their mental illness and a reluctance of teaching faculty to help and understand. We find this to be unacceptable, as a new standard must be set across the board for all faculty, that if a student undergoing mental illness has the courage to explain their issues to a faculty member, than that faculty must be understanding and willing to work with the student to succeed in the class while keeping their mental health a priority.
In the Oct. 6 issue of The Blue & Gray Press, a story on the front page highlighted issues regarding the Talley Center and a lack of staffing and resources they face. While this is an important resource for students experiencing mental illness to utilize, we understand that there is only so much that the Talley Center can do with the resources available. Because of this, it is important for faculty and staff to understand and work with the student to take pressure off of resources such as the Talley Center to be the only place for students to turn to.
With finals week approaching, many students are feeling the added pressure of their course-load and this time of year serves as a breaking point for many who feel they cannot accomplish all they set out to at the beginning of the year. Consequently, students either pull out of school, do poorly on finals, or study too hard by not sleeping, neglecting to eat, or using drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall to help focus. The pressure to resort to these methods only adds to a student’s declining mental health, and much of this pressure is put on them by professors.
Seasonal affective disorder is also significant this time of year, where students experience negative mood changes as the weather gets cooler and the nights start earlier. All of these factors line up perfectly this time of year to create the perfect storm for students with mental illnesses to make rash or damaging decisions or feel the need to leave school, which neither the student or the University wants, but is often necessary for their health.
So this finals season, to all students, faculty and staff, keep mental health a priority. Your GPA, in the grand scheme of things, is not that important.