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abradycole's picture

It’s not surprising at all to me that nearly half of the students who participated in this survey had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the last 12 months and almost a third of them have “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.” As several others have already mentioned, because of the nature of a college setting where much of students’ lives are separate from their parents, it makes a lot of sense that there would be such high rates of anxiety and depression. “What is a reliable index of character formation is the degree of coordination and integration among ego functions; adolescent closure occurs when character challenges become integrated and function in unison to mark an ensuing phase of greater autonomy and stability” (69). While the separation of the self from one’s parents, particularly one’s mother is a time of great self-realization and development, with the social and academic stresses of college looming large, it seems college campuses aren’t the best places for healthy separation and independent adult development.

            College students are expected to have a clear understanding of themselves and their goals even before they’ve begun to fully separate themselves from their parents. Even with Bryn Mawr’s emphasis on self-exploration and discovery, the structure of the college system leaves very little space for any kind of substantial pondering and experiential learning. If we’re looking at college-age students through the “Kroger lens,” it is a time of incredible inner turmoil and struggle. What these survey statistics fail to address are some of the substantial reasons for the high rates of depression and anxiety. It’s a lot to ask of a young person to both succeed academically in a place where academics are supposed to given the utmost attention, and also separate from one’s parents and build other kinds of non-familial, often romantic attachments in order to continue one’s adult development. The second expectation isn't recognized in the same way. It's assumed that college students will have romantic and sexual partners and build social circles as a kind of substitutional parental support system. However, there's very little support for all of the emotional strain that comes with that kind of development. As Hummingbird said, it’s no wonder there are such high rates of mental health issues in college settings.