Maintaining Mental Health: Advice for College Freshmen

A prominent mental health advocate, Julie Hersh experienced her first depressive episode during her first year as a student at the University of Notre Dame. Many young students enter college with fears of failure or putting on the dreaded “freshman 15,” but few understand the importance of actively maintaining mental health. Julie Hersh admits that depression or other forms of mental illness were never on her mind until her depressive episode. Had she been aware of the dangers, she believes she could have mitigated her struggle—or even avoided it altogether. While Hersh stresses that no panacea exists for mental illness, the following approaches may help college freshmen avoid serious problems.

-Take care of yourself physically. This entails getting a minimum amount of sleep, ensuring proper nutrition with the help of multivitamins, and exercising regularly.

-Mentally stimulate yourself. Balance your schedule with classes you find personally engaging. Students who take electives in areas they are passionate about often perform better in their required courses.

-Strike a careful balance in relationships. When individuals invest all their time in a significant other, a breakup can prove devastating.

-Research and understand the symptoms of depression and mental illness. This enables students to recognize symptoms in themselves and their friends and sets them up to proactively deal with potential problems.