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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Be kind to yourself and others

The Editorial Board encourages you to show compassion and kindness toward all people, including yourself, and especially others struggling with their mental health

Any student can schedule individual counselling sessions with the Student Health and Wellness Center by calling 1(530)752-0871. The phone number for the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1(800)273-8255 or text RELATE to 74174 to confidentially chat with a Crisis Counselor. Speak with a trained counselor, available 24/7, through The Trevor Project at 1(866)488-7386. Yolo County’s 24-hour crisis line is 1(530)756-5000.

    As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, the Editorial Board wants to acknowledge the many students currently struggling with their mental health. With exams to take, degree requirements to meet, bills to pay and internships to secure, college is an undoubtedly stressful time. According to surveys from the American College Health Association in 2018 and 2019, 60% of college students said they had experienced “overwhelming anxiety” within the past year and 40% of students experienced severe depression that impacted their normal functioning in the same time frame.

    On top of the normal stressors of student life, the pandemic has placed an even greater strain on young people. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, reported symptoms of anxiety and depression have increased for all age groups, but the trend has been more pronounced for young people. According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control, young adults experienced the largest increases in unmet mental health needs and symptoms of anxiety or depression between August 2020 and February 2021. 

During these challenging times, it is important to be kind to yourself. To mitigate burnout, establish good study habits that allow you to take breaks and practice self care. Some forms of self care that the Editorial Board recommends are: taking walks through the Arboretum, petting the Tercero cows, hanging out with friends safely, taking bubble baths or playing a quick game of pickleball. 

In addition to practicing self care, reaching out for support from those around you, such as friends and family, can help to improve mental health. Speaking with friends in similar situations can help individuals feel less alone. Friendships can impact people’s health and wellbeing on a biological level, as adults with strong social support experience a reduced risk of depression and high blood pressure. 

Speaking with peers or family members, however, is not always enough to help individuals who struggle with mental health concerns. Talk therapy with psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists can help individuals identify stressors in their life and develop strategies to manage their symptoms. Of the people who participate in talk therapy, 75% experience some kind of benefit, according to the American Psychological Association.

While talk therapy provides many benefits, its high cost makes it inaccessible for many individuals. The average price of talk therapy runs between $65 per hour to $250 or more. With many students unable to afford private therapists, UC Davis must extend the reach of their free mental health resources. Although UC Davis ranks highly in mental health awareness, their current counselor availability is unable to adequately meet student demand. The UC Davis Mental Health Initiative, among other student-run groups, encourages mental health discourse and provides mental health resources in areas where the university is lacking. 

    As students, we can illustrate compassion toward others to help navigate the challenges of college life amidst a pandemic. Small acts of kindness, such as opening the door for someone, saying thank you or even just smiling can change someone’s day. 

Being kind toward others will also benefit your own happiness. People who receive acts of kindness become happier as a result, however, those who deliver the acts of kindness benefit even more. In one study, participants who delivered acts of kindness experienced increased happiness, boosts in life and job satisfaction and decreased depression. Another study showed that engaging in prosocial behaviors, actions that have the intent of benefiting others, mitigates the negative effects of stress.

    To benefit your own mental health and the happiness of others, it pays to be kind—both to yourself and to others. It’s hard to regret treating others with the kindness and grace you want yourself. 

Written by: The Editorial Board

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