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Mental Health

According to, mental health is defined as how a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s situations. It is how people see themselves, their lives and other people in their lives. Everyone has mental health and it can fall anywhere on a continuum from better to worse and can change throughout a person’s life.


What influences mental health?

  • Situation
    • Any situation can effect someone’s mental health. A death in the family, taking challenging classes, fighting with friends or family, or running low on money may cause someone to have poor mental health.
    • Raising your GPA, a visit from family, a new relationship, or an exciting new class can improve someone’s mental health.
    • UC students reported these being traumatic or difficult to handle
      • Academics - 43.4%
      • Career-Related Issues – 22%
      • Intimate Relationships – 38%
      • Finances - 35.7%
  • Coping Methods
    • Coping methods are methods people learn usually at a young age and develop through out their lives to learn how to best deal with stressful, upsetting or saddening situations.
    • Example: Some people cope with feelings of homesickness by focusing on their studies, doing all their homework and talking to the teacher after class. Someone else might cope with homesickness by oversleeping, skipping classes, and spending time alone.
    • Other coping methods could include working out, listening to music, talking with a friend, or doing something you enjoy.
  • Support System
    • A support system is the people or activities you have in place that can help you when you may be struggling with poor mental health. This could be your family, your sports team, your student organization, or your group of friends.
  • Genetics
    • Genetics can greatly influence a person’s mental health. Mental Illnesses are caused by a genetic predisposition to the disease.

What are Mental Illnesses?

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Mental illnesses are diseases just like heart disease or other medical conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Possible Mental Illnesses

  • Many people with mental illness may cope in unhealthy ways
    • Self-Harm/Self-Injury
    • Eating disorders
    • Substance abuse- drugs or alcohol
    • Suicide
  • Many of these can be directly related to mental illness either as a cause or a result, but they do not necessarily have to be related to mental illness

Substance Abuse

  • Drugs and alcohol are sometimes used to help cope with mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. However, alcohol and many other popular drugs are depressants which can in fact worsen your mental state.
  • Signs and symptoms of a drug or alcohol problem:
    • Repeated inability to meet obligations
    • Repeated dangerous behaviors
    • Repeated legal problems
    • Repeated interpersonal problems
    • Inability to not use drugs or alcohol

Substance Abuse in College

Often on college campuses drinking and experimenting with drugs is seen as normal which can make it hard to tell if you or a friend have a serious problem. Some questions to help determine if drug or alcohol use could be a bigger problem are:

  • Have you ever missed a class, not finished homework, or received a lower grade because of your alcohol or drug use?
  • Has your health or body suffered from your alcohol or drug use such as blacking out, long hangovers, or injuring yourself while intoxicated?
  • Have you ever become violent or gotten into physical or verbal fights as a result of your drug or alcohol use?
  • Have you ever lost control or felt that you could not control your alcohol or drug use?
  • Have any of your friends expressed concern or worry about your alcohol or drug use?


  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds
  • 90% of people who kill themselves have a treatable mental illness
  • 20%-50% of people who commit suicide have attempted it in the past
  • Suicide warning signs:
    • Observable signs of serious depression such as unrelenting low mood, pessimism, hopelessness, desperation, anxiety, withdrawal, or sleep problems
    • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
    • Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
    • Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die
    • Making a plan for suicide such as giving away prized possessions, sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm, or obtaining other means of killing self such as poisons or medications
    • Unexpected rage or anger
  • What to do if you think someone is suicidal:
    • Take it seriously
    • Be willing to listen
    • Seek professional help
    • If they are actively trying, do not leave them alone, remove means of killing themselves from the vicinity and take them to the ER
    • Follow up- talk to your friend after the fact to make sure they are taking their medication, seeing a therapist and to ask if there is anything more you can do

Mental Health at UC

  • 29.3% of UC students felt so depressed it was difficult to function
  • 83.5% of UC students felt extremely overwhelmed
  • 48.7% of UC students felt overwhelming anxiety
  • 4.9% of UC students reported intentionally cutting, burning, bruising or intentionally injuring themselves
  • 4.9% of UC students seriously considered suicide
  • 8.1% of UC students reported receiving treatment for depression
  • 8.4% of UC students reported receiving treatment for anxiety