By Jeanine Campbell, Staff Writer

It goes without saying that college can be an emotional roller coaster. College students know stress, anxiety, insecurity, and countless other mental battles all too well. In fact, “fifty percent of students rate their mental health as below average or poor,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, so no one student is alone in encounters with emotional distress. Mental health is a huge issue, and there is no better time to start dealing with it than now, at the beginning of adult life.

One way for students to start a journey toward emotional wellness is by leaving margins in their busyness to allow time for rest. According to Associate Dean of Wholeness and Wellness Kevin Bellew, realistic expectations for oneself, limited schedules, and the occasional “no” to opportunities will go a long way in easing emotional stress.

“Mental health is a huge issue, and there is no better time to start dealing with it than now.”

Bellew also brings attention to the discreet ways that technology can actually interfere with the process of emotional wellness. A study conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design found adults are exposed to screens “for about 8.5 hours on any given day,” and Bellew points out that the down time students need for their brains to relax has become a time for more input that can actually work against wellness. For example, Bellew says students experience stress responses to intense shows as if they are reality, and that most comparisons prompted by social media only lower self-esteem.

Researcher Brené Brown provides support for the negative potential of social media, noting that it triggers a fear of missing out that “kills gratitude” and causes people to abandon their boundaries. Just a glimpse of the power technology has over students’ lives reveals that using media as an escape from emotional drain isn’t enough to truly ease the mind.

Mental health deserves extensive awareness and care; but, slowing down and watching for unexpected obstacles, even in media, can be ways for college students to start moving in the direction of emotional wellness. After all, most students are aware of the major effects emotional triumphs and trials can have on their perceptions, decisions, and quality of life. Ultimately, pursuing wholeness in the emotional domain can enable students to accomplish all they do with greater excellence, so that they can best fulfill the call in Colossians 3:17 to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”