The grind feels endless and the so-called sprint to the finish line feels more like a marathon each day. As the rising Generation Z paves the path for future generations, two issues in particular strike a chord: mental health and the rise of students seeking resources and counseling. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 37 percent of Generation Z –– young people between the ages of 15-21–– received treatment for mental health issues, compared to 26 percent of Generation X and 22 percent of baby boomers. However, analysis of these statistics hardly reveal the entire picture. There is nothing particularly wrong with Generation Z; rather, these numbers may indicate either societal differences between generations or mental health stigmatization, which results in many people — especially in past generations — failing to obtain treatment in fear of judgment. Fortunately, today’s medical advancements and research have prompted more open conversations about mental illness.
The National Institute of Mental Health conducts extensive research in attempts to better understand depression, especially depression in college-aged students. Undoubtedly, college is both exciting and challenging; living independently often for the first time, forming new friendships and adjusting to an entirely different environment can be overwhelming. It’s no wonder that one small setback can seem like the end of the world. The number of college students dealing with serious psychological problems has surged and created a higher demand for accessible resources. College students, however, have always dealt with these issues. The surge can also be credited to a change in perspective of the current generation, as people are more willing to talk about mental illnesses.
Wellesley College — while advocating for its students, staff and faculty to take care of themselves both physically and mentally — does not have on-campus resources that meet the expectations of those who need consistent treatment over long periods of time. Depressive disorders caused by a multitude of factors — biological, psychological, genetic and environmental — cannot be treated by one method or in a short period of time. Major depressive disorder is as common as anxiety disorders, eating disorders and sleep disorders. That means a student suffering from depression may also have an eating disorder and/or sleep disorder. Professionals at the Stone Center might be trained in treating these mental health issues, but reaching such students who need the help is another situation.
The Stone Center has made an effort to listen to the Wellesley College community by reaffirming its mission to promote psychological growth and foster a collaborative academic environment that both enriches a student’s life and gives them the tools for life after college. The Stone Center specifically advocates “the capacity to explore personal concerns or feelings, whether they be large or small, [as] a sign of strength.” The Stone Center tries to the best of its ability to help students with the transition into college and the stress of college life, but needs to understand that students have different narratives and thus need individualized treatment. One Wellesley sophomore student who wished to remain anonymous highlighted the fact that “one viable resolution to the Stone Center’s need for more individualized treatment is understanding student personality types and the common knowledge (though not always true) that Wellesley students are type A personality.”
Instead of only combating depressive disorders and eating disorders, why not also try to target the resulting stress? Students are too busy to step back and think about their mental health. When there is a free moment in the day, many students fill this period with activities or academia. Wellesley’s campus culture pressures students to do more and more, and the Stone Center, although it realizes this fact, cannot make students take on less. While it is true that the Stone Center is understaffed, Wellesley students are also overtaxed.
If the Stone Center both had a larger staff and worked to further individualize treatment, this would vastly improve the well-being of the student body.